As shown in a study from the University of Missouri that we covered last year, seniors can live independently longer when their home is equipped with passive sensor systems. People are notoriously bad at accurately reporting on gradual changes to their health, and these systems can help detect subtle changes that can trigger treatments or other interventions before the problems become more serious or even life-threatening. The result is greater independence for the individuals, more peace of mind for their caregivers, and a potential for enormous cost savings across the board. And passive systems do not require the subject to do anything to make the system work, unlike wearable devices such as wristbands or alert pendants.
The University of Missouri is back with two more studies that provide additional support for these conclusions. Residents in the university’s Tiger Place senior independent living community tested two types of passive sensors. One was a system of pressure sensors that are installed underneath the subject’s mattress. This system is capable of not just recording when the subject was in bed, but also breathing rate, heart rate, and other cardiac activity. The sensors consist of water-filled tubes and devices that measure subtle differences in pressure. The other system uses Doppler radar to track the subject’s motion through a room. By monitoring their activity level and their walking speed, it is possible to monitor health changes and detect increased risk of falling. The radar data was checked against monthly assessments to ensure its accuracy.
These systems are able to detect changes over time, whether it is sleep behavior, heart rate, or physical mobility. By adding algorithms that can accurately evaluate this data and alert caregivers of possible changes, systems such as these could help seniors maintain independent living for much longer.