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An Intelligent Socialand Remote Wellness Monitoring System For The Elderly
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Successful application of any technology supporting independent living, such as social alarmsor remote health monitoring, requires careful design and implementation of not only the technology itself but also the care provisioning process. An essential contributor to success is that the users – both elderly people and care givers – are motivated and capable to successfully use the technology in their daily living. For example social alarms are useless if the alarm device is not at hand when an emergency occurs – a common situation according to some reports. An essential feature of the IST Vivago system is that it integrates both the intelligent social alarm system and remote wellness monitoring into a single system, which appears as a single wrist worn unit for the elderly user. Intelligence means not only the automatic passivity and inactivity alarms but also very importantly the on-wrist-detection feature, which enables the achievement of a remarkably high usage rate by allowing the care provider to monitor the true usage of the system.
The usage and alarm rates of the IST Vivago system were evaluated in Savitaipale, Finland, over three months in 83 elderly people living at home or in assisted living facilities. During the study, the wrist unit was worn 94% of the time that the users spent within the device range. This extraordinary high usage rate as compared to those reported with traditional social alarm systems was a result of two factors. First, the true usage was monitored, and the users were actively instructed to wear the unit whenever they did not do so. Second, the manual alarm buttonwas used also as a nurse call system in the assisted living facilities, increasing the motivation to wear the wrist unit and also habituating the users to wear the alarm.
Elderly users regard the system as mainly a safety device. This motivates them to wear the wrist unit continuously. As a side product, a long-term – of months or years – follow-up of activity and circadian rhythm is provided. This data provides unique opportunities for both research and daily elderly care. Circadian rhythm and sleep/wake patterns are known to be modified e.g. due to dementia, depression, chronic pain, sudden illness, sleep syndromes, etc., which are all common in elderly subjects. Provided data is similar to the standard actigraphy, which is commonly used in sleep syndrome diagnosis and treatment follow up.
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