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Assisting People with Early Stage Dementia: Monitoring Wandering

Biomedical Sciences Research Institute Computer Science Research Institute Environmental Sciences Research Institute Nanotechnology & Advanced Materials Research Institute

McCullagh, PJ, Augusto, Juan Carlos, Zheng, H, Mulvenna, Maurice, Wang, HY, Carswell, William, Wallace, Jonathan, Martin, Suzanne and Jeffers, Paul (2011) Assisting People with Early Stage Dementia: Monitoring Wandering. In: EVERYDAY TECHNOLOGY FOR INDEPENDENCE AND CARE. (Eds: Gelderblom, Gert Jan, Soede, Mathijs, Adriaens, Leon and Miesenberge, Klaus), IOS Press, Amsterdam, pp. 137-144. ISBN 978-1-60750-813-7 [Book section]

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DOI: 10.3233/978-1-60750-814-4-137

Abstract

Objective A symptom often associated with early stage dementia is themisunderstanding of context. This may be inability to match activities of dailyliving to time of day and can manifest by wandering behaviour, at dusk or duringnighttime. This behaviour is certainly inconvenient to the carer, but can bedangerous should the person trip, misuse a domestic appliance (e.g. cooker) orleave the dwelling. Technology has been used to assist people with dementia.Commercial systems deploy sensors that can raise an alarm and allow a remotecarer to intervene via an intercom, for example. In this work we seek to extend thetechnology to provide reassurance and guidance to the client. In this case the clientcan be the person with dementia, but the beneficiary may also be their carer.Main Content A person may engage with wandering behaviour, possibly becausethey forget their intended goal. This is of course exacerbated by early stagedementia. Sensors such as movement detectors can trigger actuators to providelighting guidance, for example. Reasoning systems use rules and utilize context todecide whether the recorded behaviour is intended and legitimate or unintendedand potentially dangerous. The rules can be preset and supported by collected data.The decision on when and how to intervene in a particular situation is complex. Inthis case the reasoning system may need to utilize context to provide a reasonableresult, and hence compensate for the misunderstanding by the individual.Results In this study, which has been undertaken in the Nocturnal project, wediscuss the use of software agents, which monitor ‘restlessness’ and ‘wandering’to determine the rules for subsequent intervention. The intervention should beinitially advisory, e.g. using lighting to guide a wandering person back to thebedroom during the hours of darkness. However there should be an in-built safetyprocedure, which alerts a carer, should the person ignore advice and potentially puthimself or herself in a harmful situation. The guidance technology supports thecarer, and seeks to assist the cared for person, in a beneficial manner.Conclusion The technology to implement sensing and guidance is available. Inorder to utilize this technology for assistance with early stage dementia requiresthe development of supporting software (agents) and rules of engagement. In anycase the necessity of back up assistance, a human carer, is still a requirement.

Item Type:Book section
Keywords:Dementia, Wandering, Guidance, Software Agents.
Faculties and Schools:Faculty of Computing & Engineering
Faculty of Life and Health Sciences
Faculty of Computing & Engineering > School of Computing and Mathematics
Faculty of Life and Health Sciences > School of Health Sciences
Research Institutes and Groups:Computer Science Research Institute
Computer Science Research Institute > Artificial Intelligence and Applications
Computer Science Research Institute > Smart Environments
Institute of Nursing and Health Research > Centre for Health and Rehabilitation Technologies
ID Code:20042
Deposited By:Dr Paul McCullagh
Deposited On:04 Nov 2011 12:27
Last Modified:28 Feb 2012 11:51

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