It's not a normal part of aging, but Dementia is very common. The memory loss that comes with that is a big concern for people who live alone because they may forget important medication. That's where the Smart House comes into focus.
Researchers at Oregon Health and Science University are developing a monitoring system that will help doctors spot the earliest signs of Dementia. Audrey, for example, lives alone but her house is now equipped with this tracking device. It means that if her pill box doesn't open on time, it sends a signal to her caretaker who may be 20 miles away. Dr. Tamara Hayes says "we do have some people who actually are very adherent. They take it on time the same day every day, no problems. We also have people who think they take it on time every day, no problems, but in fact, they miss very frequently."
This new monitoring system even alerts caregivers if a patient falls while getting out of bed. And so far, with 50 seniors using this in the Portland area, it appears to be very successful. The device, itself, costs under a hundred dollars. But then you have to add the price of the computer system and hiring someone to monitor and interpret the data. Oregon researchers are convinced, though, that this wireless tehnology will eventually be in big demand because it will allow more seniors to stay independent.
Dr. Jeffery A. Kaye says "this is not some kind of world's fair, future home that we'll never see. At least what we're doing is we're trying to devise ways of bringing this to people within the next few years." The project is funded in part by the National Institutes of Health.