Wearable technology is fast becoming a part of our lives. From a sweat sensor that detects stress levels to a wearable that tracks your sleep, soon there’s going to be a wearable technology for tracking and measuring almost anything you can think of.
Wearable technology can play an important role in monitoring the health of the elderly. It can be used to monitor their heart conditions and early detect Alzheimer’s disease.
Monitoring heart disease of the elderly
The American Heart Association (AHA) conducted a systematic review of studies of older adults who used mobile health technologies to manage their cardiovascular disease. It included 26 studies that examined mobile health technologies for secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease among participants 60 years and older, reports MobiHealthNews.
The AHA review found that mobile health interventions, especially those that use texting, can improve health behaviors like exercise and diet, as well as medication adherence in older adults.
“We know that controlling blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol are essential secondary prevention strategies and often require medication management,” Eric Schorr, Ph.D., BSBA, RN, the lead author of the scientific statement and associate professor in the Adult and Gerontological Health Cooperative at the University of Minnesota School of Nursing, said in a statement.
Age is one of the largest risk factors for cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in the U.S. Therefore, it is crucial to effectively manage heart disease and take preventative steps.
Dementia is not a normal part of aging, and although visible symptoms manifest themselves later in life, the diseases that cause it often develop much earlier, reports AZO Sensors.
Detecting Alzheimer’s disease before symptoms show
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder that causes brain cells to degenerate, resulting in memory loss and cognitive decline. It is the most common form of dementia, accounting for 60 to 80% of dementia cases in the U.S. In the U.S., Alzheimer’s kills more people than diabetes and more people than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined.
Alzheimer’s Research UK and Boston University Alzheimer’s Disease Research Centre (BU ADRC) has entered into a three-year partnership to use smartwatches and headbands to collect digital data to detect Alzheimer’s years before symptoms show.
The devices will be used by up to 200 participants with or without dementia for two weeks every three months for one year. The wearables will monitor their sleep, neural activity, fine motor skills, speech and language, and physical activity.
The data will be shared with the Early Detection of Neurodegenerative diseases (EDoN) initiative, which aims to develop a robust machine learning model capable of detecting subtle patterns in people’s digital data, acting as a red flag for early disease.
“The diseases that cause dementia can start in midlife, but we currently don’t have inexpensive and non-invasive methods to detect this early disease,” states Dr Jesse Mez, Clinical Core Director for BU ADRC. “Digital technologies like smartphones and wearables could provide a low cost, easy-to-use way to pick up some of the very subtle early changes in diseases like Alzheimer’s.”