Home-based Reminder System to Enable Self-Directed Dementia Care and Remote Behaviour Monitoring
Keywords: Reminder, dementia, behaviour monitoring
Overview of Research
Major demographic changes are currently underway as the average life expectancy continues to increase and the population of adults aged over 60 years old is projected to continually grow until 2050. Dementia is one of the main risks associated with aging and affects 5% of adults aged over 65 worldwide, with this prevalence doubling every 5 years . It is a devasting condition that places significant emotional, physical, and financial burdens on patients, caregivers, and society . People with dementia (PWD) face considerable challenges completing activities of daily living (ADLs) due to memory loss, causing stress to family and caregivers who worry about the person’s safety and well-being.
In light of these significant demographic shifts, there is a burgeoning interest in technological innovations that promote ‘aging-in-place’. Assistive technology (AT) can empower PWD, for example, by enabling them to complete tasks more independently. Following daily routines without the help of caregivers increases the perception of autonomy and dignity in PWD. AT is a largely untapped resource to allow PWD to attain better management of their lives and to increase their potential for active involvement in their community . However, a recent systematic review found that caregivers often struggle due to design flaws in AT, AT not meeting the needs of individual patients, and a lack of consistency in classifying AT for use in dementia .
This research explores the development of a home-based reminder system comprising of electronic post it notes and a base station to enable self-directed dementia care and remote behaviour monitoring. Using this system, reminders can be sent to the electronic post it notes via a base station, such as a mobile application on a phone or tablet, by either the caregiver or the person with dementia (PWD). The electronic post it notes will be able to detect when a reminder is acknowledged, and the data will be collected and monitored to reveal insights regarding the behaviour of the individual. The target populations are people with dementia and their caregivers. The target caregivers are specifically friends and family of people with dementia, or caregivers who do not directly receive compensation for their services.
- To research and identify the needs and challenges of PWD and their caregivers to implement corresponding features and functions, including user interfaces, feedback, and activity sensors, in the reminder system.
- To develop the reminder system utilizing principles of ubiquitous computing to allow for prompting of the user and the capability of connecting multiple electronic post it notes together, as well as to third party devices such as mobile phones and/or tablets.
- To test a prototype of the proposed reminder system in a simulated home environment to model the potential interactions between PWD, caregivers, and the device.
There is potential to help sustain cognitive abilities required to accomplish ADLs and to enable autonomy and independence in PWD using reminder system technologies, while enabling them to remain safely at home. This is especially notable as aging in place and remaining independent in home-environments are highly valued and important qualities of life in PWD. In addition, remote behaviour monitoring can be used by caregivers to have a sense of reassurance and communication, while reducing the level of responsibility they feel when caring for PWD. Caregivers can also redirect their time towards more meaningful activities with PWD.
- A. Pappadà, R. Chattat, I. Chirico, M. Valente, and G. Ottoboni, “Assistive technologies in dementia care: An updated analysis of the literature,” Frontiers in Psychology, vol. 12, 2021.
- S. Duong, T. Patel, and F. Chang, “Dementia,” Canadian Pharmacists Journal / Revue des Pharmaciens du Canada, vol. 150, no. 2, pp. 118–129, 2017.
- K.-E. Jönsson, K. Ornstein, J. Christensen, and J. Eriksson, “A reminder system for independence in Dementia Care,” Proceedings of the 12th ACM International Conference on PErvasive Technologies Related to Assistive Environments, 2019.
Alex Mihailidis, Ph.D. P.Eng. (University of Toronto)
Alyssia Sanchez, MSc, BME, (University of Toronto)