According to The Alzheimer’s Association, more than 44 million people globally live with Alzheimer’s disease, including five million patients in the United States alone. As life expectancy increases, the number of people who suffer from Alzheimer’s and other diseases that affect memory is estimated to rise to as high as 16 million in the U.S. by 2050. While great strides are being made to understand, treat, and hopefully prevent the disease, there still is no cure.
Alzheimer’s disease also takes a heavy toll on a patient’s family members. The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that more than 15 million Americans provide unpaid care for loved ones with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia valued at more than $230 billion annually. With so many families shouldering the daily responsibility of providing care, doctors and medical professionals are looking for IoT solutions to help improve their patients’ quality of life and ease the burden on their families. From simple wearables to smart home technology, IoT has helped those with Alzheimer’s live with more independence and avoid serious injury.
Using Wearables and Home Automation to Assist in Routine Management
One of the ways that Alzheimer’s patients cope with memory loss is to cultivate a daily routine. As the disease gradually impairs a person's ability to plan, initiate, and complete activities, familiar environments and actions on a predictable schedule can prevent them from becoming distracted. But even with a routine, Alzheimer's patients can forget what they were doing and potentially hurt themselves. According to The Alzheimer’s Association, three out of every five Alzheimer’s patients will wander at some point in their struggle with the disease. If they aren’t found within 24 hours, they have a 50% chance of being seriously injured.
Wearable IoT-enabled technology, such as fitness and GPS trackers, can be indispensable to prevent wandering. Unobtrusive wrist-worn devices can record sleep patterns, heart rate, and other vital signs. And companies such as SafeWander have developed socks and buttons that send alerts when patients leave the bed. If a person moves off their regular schedule or wanders outside a certain area, their wearables will notify caregivers to intervene.
For more robust solutions, companies such as SimplyHome design wireless technology products to aid in all home healthcare services. Once installed in a patient’s home, systems communicate with multiple sensors to observe the activities of daily living and alert both patients and caregivers to changes in behavioral patterns. Motion sensors, bed pressure pads, and door/window contacts use IoT cellular communications to alert family members and caretakers to falls, wandering, or changes in sleep patterns. Customizable IoT systems also can adapt over time to alleviate concerns about cooking safety and medication adherence. If a person forgets to do something, such as take their medication or turn off the stove after cooking, home sensors detect the issue and trigger vocal reminders. Environmental controls allow patients to operate beds, lights, TVs, doors, and more via tablet or voice activation, and to gently guide them along their regular routine that the system has learned. With all of these systems, patients can remain independent for much longer and caregivers can feel at ease with the knowledge that their family members are safe.
Improving Ease of Care with Aeris IoT Services
The Aeris IoT Services platform provides dependable, always-on cellular connectivity and IoT solutions that enable medical device manufacturers and healthcare providers to achieve the highest levels of patient engagement and medical adherence. A single dashboard manages all devices across both CDMA and GSM networks, wherever they are deployed, and the patient monitoring solution includes an open IoT application development environment with a cloud-based provisioning service. The Aeris IoT Services solution meets all market requirements for a robust, secure, feature-rich routing platform that supports customers in the field, while allowing an aging population to remain in their homes for as long as possible.
To learn more about the solutions that can put your medical device ideas into practice and improve the quality of life for those who suffer from Alzheimer’s and other memory-related diseases, contact Aeris today.