Government // Leadership
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9/29/2009
12:02 PM
Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner
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Wireless Technologies Help With Alzheimer's Care

As the Alzheimer's spreads, healthcare companies are developing wireless technologies to help caregivers look after their charges. The technologies monitor people with Alzheimer's to make sure they're not in trouble, with a particular focus on making sure that patients don't wander off.

As the Alzheimer's spreads, healthcare companies are developing wireless technologies to help caregivers look after their charges. The technologies monitor people with Alzheimer's to make sure they're not in trouble, with a particular focus on making sure that patients don't wander off.Finding wandering Alzheiemer's patients quickly is important. For those not found within 24 hours, up to half suffer serious injury or death. And a patient who wanders once will likely do it again; 70% of patients who wander do so repeatedly.

According to a report from mobihealthnews, LoJack, the famous device for helping cops find stolen cars, announced LoJack SafetyNet in February, a tracking system for more than 5.2 million Alzheimer's patients who may wander off and have trouble finding their way home again. SafetyNet uses the Lojack Radio Frequency technology, which is what their Stolen Vehicle Recovery System is based on. The service can also be used for pepole with autism, Down syndrome, dementia, and other conditions.

Omnilink provides a wireless tracking service for Alzheimer's patients running on a Qualcomm handset. It's a location-based tracking service for people with Alzheimer's to allow caregivers to keep track of their patients and keep them from wandering.

Healthsense eNeighbor offers a more comprehensive service. Battery-operated Wi-Fi sensors include pressure sensors in beds to detect when a patient gets into or out of bed, motion detectors on walls to detect movement or inactivity, sensors to monitor toilet usage, contact sensors on kitchen cupboards and refrigerator doors to monitor whether the person is eating regularly, and door sensors that alert when a person tries to leave home or enter potentially hazardous areas like stairways. The system uses algorithms to analyze sensor data and figure out whether a resident needs assistance, and sends out assistive prompts or alerts via phone when hep is needed. Information and reports can be viewed from a secure online portal.

Technology will be needed to take care of a rapidly growing Alzheimer's population. The number of Alzheimer's patients will likely double every 20 years, fueled by longer life spans and population growth, especially in developed nations.

InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on e-health and the federal stimulus package. Download the report here (registration required).

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