Dementia, elderly man sitting on a bench

Engineering Systems Design in Healthcare: Smart Wearables for Dementia Monitoring

Smart wearables are capable of both supporting people with dementia and generating data about their behaviour. This project explores how this could be leveraged in a connected care system to enable active ageing.

Background

Smart technology and wearable sensors are growing in popularity and being woven into our everyday lives. Concurrently, the population is ageing, giving rise to challenges such as an increasing prevalence of dementia. This motivates us to harness the capabilities of smart wearables in addressing such challenges. Already, our smartphones and smartwatches are able to provide intelligent reminders, guide us home, enable us to engage with friends and family, and monitor aspects of our wellbeing. This functionality is well-suited to improving independence and quality of life among the elderly and cognitively impaired; however it is the young and healthy who are adopting these products. We are therefore interested in exploring how wearables might be adapted to match the needs and capabilities of the dementia care network, and integrated into care practices. In doing so, we hope to guide designers and other stakeholders towards realising this vision of a connected care system.

Project Objectives

The first phase of the project focuses on gathering information to understand the needs of the dementia care network and relating these to functionality offered by existing smart wearables. An outcome from this will be a basic prototype (adapted smartwatch) to be used by people with dementia over several months in a collection of case studies. These will investigate adoption of the technology by users, and explore how data generated by using the prototype can be analysed to understand user behaviour. In the final project phase, conclusions will be drawn about which support functions were successful, and which measures of user behaviour are valid and relevant for different stakeholders. These will then be used to model a proposed connected care system.

Through these activities, the project objectives are to:

  • investigate how smart wearables (smartwatch, smartphone) might be adapted and used to support the functional, psychosocial and safety related needs of people with dementia
  • derive measures that describe users’ behaviour (eg activity patterns, unusual/dangerous behaviour) from data recorded automatically from a wearable prototype
  • identify factors that influence adoption (of a smartwatch-based aid) among people with dementia and their caregivers, thereby providing information that could help designers reach this user group
  • model a connected care system architecture, in which data insights are fed back to various stakeholders in the care network

Contact

Julia Rosemary Thorpe
PhD student
DTU Management Engineering

Contact

Anja Maier
Professor, Head of Division
DTU Management Engineering
+45 45 25 60 45

Contact

Hysse Birgitte Forchhammer
Leading Neuropsychologist
Neurology Department, Rigshospitalet, Glostrup
http://www.cachet.dk/research/phd-projects/wearables-for-dementia
17 DECEMBER 2018