Using sensors to extend well being in elderly

Many sensors can be installed into a home providing information on the home and on its inhabitants. Credit: Electronic Specifier

The University of Michigan has been working on applying technology to improve the well being of elderly. Now it is reporting that technology can indeed better the life of elderly.

They have run a trial at Tiger Place, a retirement living in Columbia, MO, US and the results are impressive. The average length of stay at Tiger Place has doubled for the residents participating in the trial, meaning that elderly will keep their well being and independence longer (once they are no longer self sufficient they cannot be staying at Tiger Place and have to move to more specialised care facilities).

The apartments participating in the trial have been equipped with sensors that monitor walking patterns (a good indicator of health and of potential worsening of the situation), respiration rate, pulse, quality of sleep and for detecting falls. All the information is checked by medical support personnel that can proactively intervene by increasing monitoring, changing medication suggesting specific physical exercises.

In a previous trial it was shown that sensors may help detecting health problems one to two week earlier than waiting for the person itself to point out troubling symptoms.

All results have been published in a paper on Nursing Outlook. An interesting fact is that the lengthening of self sufficient period has a strong impact on the economics, since taking care of a non self sufficient person increases the cost by some 30,000$ (in the US).

The study points out that the continuous stream of data gathered by the sensors are also helping the medical staff in decision making on the type of cure to prescribe.

This is an area where EIT Digital is actively working, and in a Europe getting elderly... it is just the appropriate thing to do!

Author - Roberto Saracco

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