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Smart Homes

Use of In-Home Sensors and Internet of Things Tools to Monitor Well-Being at Home

Moving freely and safely from one place to another is a key for independent living among older adults. Limitations in mobility is a common problem among community-dwelling older adults and can lead to other health problems. Technology tools are now being used to improve older adults’ health. Those tools can help monitor older adults’ daily activities and could guide healthcare providers to predict and hopefully prevent dangerous health events due to decreased mobility. The technology tool being used by the HEALTH-E team has several types of sensors that measure how well someone is moving around. By obtaining and data about older adults’ movement over time, we can have a better understanding of patterns and characteristics of elderly mobility in order to predict and prevent negative health events. We also seek to understand user’s perceptions of the sensors and any privacy concerns around using the technology.

IT-Tools for Dementia

Testing of a Multi-purpose IT application for older adults with dementia

Technology has the potential to support meaningful and engaging activities for older adults with dementia. For this study, a multi-functional interactive technology tool designed to facilitate entertainment, communication, information access, and cognitive training in individuals with dementia has been placed in a memory care unit. Data are gathered through interviews, standardized instruments, and one-on-one sessions using the system with residents. The goal of this project is to investigate how the system is perceived by memory care unit staff, residents and family members, and to investigate how the tool affects the quality of life, mood, cognition, and health care resource utilization by residents. Ultimately we aim to design and evaluate multi-functional tools that can improve quality of life for memory care unit residents and the relationship between residents and staff.

Visualization for Health Assessment Tools

Turning Data into Information

Health assessment tools can be an effective means towards supporting successful aging, providing a broad range of data. However, there are challenges associated with designing health assessment technologies. This includes creating meaningful representations of data that describe complex constructs such as quality of life or wellness that will promote understanding and support individual and shared decision-making. Representing data to an older adult stakeholder group through appropriately designed visualizations can improve the utility of a health assessment tool while promoting involvement of older adults as full members of the care team. We apply a user centered approach towards the design and evaluation of health visualizations that represent complex constructs of wellness with the goal of promoting older adult engagement and stakeholder involvement within care.

Wellness in the Community

Using Telehealth Technologies to Promote Wellness among Community-dwelling Older Adults

Methodologies are lacking that address a holistic assessment of wellness in older adults. Technology applications may provide a platform for such an assessment, but have not been validated. The challenge in taking this approach is to assess and integrate various data sources to provide a comprehensive assessment of older adults' health. A further challenge is then to customize such assessment based on individual healthcare needs. We set out to demonstrate whether e-health applications could support the assessment of older adults' wellness in community-dwelling older adults. This also involves an examination of older adults' existing information needs and privacy concerns associated with health technologies.

Fall Detection

Exploring Technologies to Facilitate Fall Detection and Fall Prevention

In the event of a fall, adults over the age of 65, or older adults, can have a hard time getting up and may not be discovered for long periods of time. Thus a movement has been made in research to design and develop fall detection devices that can automatically detect when a person has fallen and alert someone to their situation. The purpose of my study is to explore the feasibility of a wearable fall detection device to understand the role that such a device can play amongst older adults. We will be using a commercially available device with the features of hands free voice communication, GPS location tracking and automatic fall detection. With this device we hope to assess how older adults perceive using such a device, and measure the accuracy of the device.

Robotics, Conversational Agents and Aging

Utilizing robots for older adult wellness

Many people have formed meaningful relationships with pets; it is well documented that animals can decrease loneliness, anxiety and depression, and improve mood and wellbeing for older adults. However, economic status, mobility, health conditions or overall frailty may make having a pet unfeasible for some. Robotic pets are considered as one approach that may introduce the same benefits as live pets while avoiding some of the challenges, as well as introducing technological capabilities such as artificial intelligence, sensing, and monitoring that can further enhance quality of life for older adults. We research the role that robotic pets may have for older adults and how robotic devices may enable older adults to remain more independent and mobile. We are further exploring attitudes towards robots in the U.S. and potential tasks they could perform in our future lives.

Designing a Multifunctional Wellness Tool

Assessing the wants, needs, and attitudes of older adults to design a wellness tool

The number of older adult is projected to grow rapidly, leading to increased interest in creating tools to manage their wellness. However, the usability and focus of these technologies have lagged, leading to less than ideal solutions in this area. The purpose of this study is to design a multifunctional wellness tool via user-centered design techniques. This involves first ascertaining older adults' wants, needs, and attitudes towards a wellness tool, testing the usability of a currently available tool, and integrating these learnings to design a tool for health and wellness specifically targeting older adults.