Wireless tackles Alzheimer's as cases sharply rise

By Brian Dolan

As part of awareness initiatives for World Alzheimer's Day today, Alzheimer's Disease International released a report that estimates that "over the next 20 years, the numbers of people with dementia are anticipated to increase by 40 percent in Europe, 63 percent in North America, 77 percent in the southern Latin America ... and 89 percent in the developed Asia Pacific countries." By next year some 35.6 million people worldwide will be living with dementia, and the figure is expected to hit 65.7 million by 2030 and 115.4 million by 2050.

We have noted the wireless health products and services currently available for Alzheimer's patients and their caregivers in the past, but given the day of awareness today it seems appropriate to round-up these services again:

Omnilink – Omnilink’s wireless tracking service for Alzheimer’s patients is running on a Qualcomm-powered handset. Nearly 70 percent of individuals with Alzheimer’s that wander will do so repeatedly, and of those not found within 24 hours, up to half suffer serious injury or death. Omnilink enables caregivers to keep tabs on their patients with a location-based services tracking application.

LoJack is not just for cars anymore. The wireless device maker that is known for helping cops find stolen cars announced the launch of LoJack SafetyNet back in February, a tracking system aimed at the more than 5.2 million American Alzheimer’s patients who may wander off and have trouble finding their way back home again. SafetyNet leverages LoJack’s Radio Frequency technology, which is what its Stolen Vehicle Recovery System is based on. LoJack said the service is geared toward those with autism, Down syndrome, dementia and other conditions, too. The company is also working with Project Lifesaver International to promote and support the service.

Healthsense’s eNeighbor remote monitoring system aims to help those taking care of friends and family with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Developed with grants from the National Institutes of Aging (NIA) and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Healthsense’s eNeighbor system is based on battery-operated WiFi sensors that include pressure sensors in beds to detect when a resident gets in or out of bed; motion detectors on walls to detect movement or inactivity; toilet sensors to monitor toilet usage; contact sensors on kitchen cupboards and refrigerator doors to monitor whether the resident is eating regularly; and door sensors that alert when the resident tries to leave the residence or enter potentially hazardous areas, such as stairways. The monitoring system then uses algorithms to analyze the sensor data and figure out whether or not the resident needs assistance. eNeighbor will send out assistive prompts or alerts via any phone when help is needed and information and reports can also be viewed from a secure online portal.

For more on the report: Read this post from CNN

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Ralf-Gordon Jahns (pictured on the right) is the Managing Director of Research2Guidance, a leading market analyst and strategy consultancy company for the global digital health market.