Sensoring is booming in the healthcare sector. Sensors are already being used in many care centers to prevent the elderly from wandering. Also important are sensors that signal when an elderly person gets out of bed at night or shows restless behaviour. With smart diapers equipped with a sensor, healthcare workers can receive a signal when a change is required. The TanteLouise care center even has sensors in the floor that can determine, based on the movements of residents, whether or not someone is at high risk of falling. If the risk of falling is high, the resident concerned can be equipped with a so-called hip airbag. In short: the possibilities of sensoring are already being applied on a large scale and do not seem to be exhausted yet!
Try sensors & dementia
However, the trial that healthcare organization SVZR is conducting with sensoring to detect dementia in the home situation is certainly innovative. The explicit aim is not to label or patronize people, but to make possible problems open to discussion so that people can continue to live at home for as long as possible. Many people do not know, but in the Netherlands many people with early and even somewhat advanced dementia still live ‘normally’ at home.
In fact, 79% of people with dementia live at home and are cared for by their close family and environment, the so-called informal carers. There are even more than 800,000 informal carers of people with dementia in the Netherlands. Living at home is often still possible thanks to informal carers, home care and interventions in consultation such as removing the gas appliance, stopping driving, installing a stairlift and well-planned monitoring at home and at a distance. Every person with dementia is different, so tailor-made agreements will have to be made with each person involved.
Staff director of welfare and care Dirk de Korne of SVRZ explains on NPO 1 Radio how the suspicion of dementia can arise through sensoring in practice. “Every individual’s pattern is different. Sensors and data can help to gain insight into what is normal. It is not detailed medical information, but information about your lifestyle. That is precisely what is so important when it comes to living safely and responsibly at home. Because you may think that self-care still works fine, but according to the sensor, you have not showered for a long time. That can lead to an in-depth conversation.” The information is not sent to the care provider and people retain control over the data themselves. They can also view that info and they can indicate themselves whether or not the info may be shared.
Big brother hélpt
Some people may think that George Orwell’s 1984 is now final, but Dirk de Korne doesn’t think it will go that fast. He also emphasizes the need for digital solutions, the use of sensors and AI. “Zeeland is the most aging province after Limburg. We have a major staff shortage. So people really like to have a big brother or big brother who participates. Of course there are limits to privacy, but a camera is different from a simple sensor on a door. Due to the lack of personnel, we notice that the demand for artificial intelligence comes naturally. The first experiences are therefore positive.”