Wrist Worn Device to Aid the Elderly to Age in Place

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Virginia Tech

The elderly population is increasing at a rapid rate each year, and with the increase in the elderly population there is a need for better medical assistance and devices. The greatest problem this demographic is facing is the ability to age in place. More elderly people are being placed in nursing homes, assisted living homes, moving in with relatives due to disabilities or fear of disabilities caused by a life threaten event such as heart disease, stroke, falling/fainting, or uncontrolled glucose levels. Falling is the number one leading cause of deaths, injuries and incapacity in the elderly. Stroke is the 3rd leading cause of death in the U.S; it is the 2nd leading cause worldwide. Rapid change in glucose levels is another leading cause of disabilities and deaths. Heart disease is the 2nd leading cause of death in the elderly. These life threatening events can be prevented and if treated early enough can allow the person to have a full recovery and continue to age in place.

A device was proposed that could monitor these four life threatening events: heart disease, stroke, falling/fainting and changes in glucose levels. This device will monitor the user continuously. Research was conducted to see what other products are on the market and how they detect these events and how reliable they are for the user. A literature review was performed to understand what other people are doing to solve the aging in place problem. Using this and needs assessment of the elderly, the system architecture for the wrist worn device was designed along with a testing plan and procedure.

More research needs to be done in certain areas to better improve solutions and technology in the area aging in place of the elderly. Before this device can bridge some of the gaps between the current issues and the solution the device will have to be tested for several things such as its ability to differentiate between stimulated falling/fainting and fall like activities such as sitting then lying. The orientation and position will be tested to see if the device can actually tell where the person is located. The device will have to be tested against well-known devices and see if it gives similar precise and accurate readings in real time.

Wrist worn device, heart disease, stroke, falling/fainting, blood glucose