An estimated 5.4 million Americans had Alzheimer's disease in 2012 and a 50% increase in this number is expected by 2030. The majority of these patients (70%) will live at home where they receive 75% of their care from informal caregivers, unpaid individuals such as family members, friends, and neighbors. These caregivers provide valuable services, often at great economic and psychological cost to themselves. In 2012, over 17 billion hours of unpaid care were estimated to have been provided by roughly 15.4 million caregivers. Around 15% of them quit their job or reduced their hours to provide this care. This translated to nearly $216 billion dollars of unpaid care in a single year. Technological solutions to assist caregivers in locating wandering patients have been introduced. However, existing solutions lack reliable functionality for indoor environments, require significant infrastructure enhancement, or burden both patient and caregiver with the use of non- discreet electronics packages that must be worn as wristbands or belt mounts. There exists an unmet need to support caregivers by providing a comprehensive localization solution of the patient relative to the caregiver that works both indoors and outdoors with little to no additional infrastructure required. Therefore, to provide a successful localization solution without encumbering the patient or caregiver and not requiring additional infrastructure, ASTER Labs, Inc. proposes to construct a patient localization solution optimized to assist monitoring by primary and secondary caregivers of dementia patients in indoor building environments. The goal is to reduce the burden and stress on caregivers by providing a highly-accurate localization of a patient's position, combined with real-time alerts of a patient's wandering movements. Perpetual safety concerns and the demands of constantly monitoring their patient result in caregiver's often reported reduced abilities to function in normal daily activities. By providing the caregiver with useful surveillance tool, they will have on- demand access to real-time location visualization within a home or public building, both while in relatively close proximity to the patient and remotely, in the situation of a remotely-located family member or secondary caregivers wishing to monitor the patient's location. The innovative concept design for this system provides localization capabilities to monitor the patient's continuous movement, so that the quality of life for both patient and caregiver may be enhanced by allowing both to move around within the home or in large indoor spaces like malls, airports, and medical centers. In this project, ASTER Labs will use WiFi and inertial sensor dead reckoning technologies to create a highly unique but practical solution to provide accurate indoor localization.

Public Health Relevance

A rapid increase in America's elderly population suffering from dementia has indicated a sharp rise in healthcare cost and drastic decrease in quality of living for primary and secondary caregivers. The risk of injury and danger to dementia patients with tendencies to wander from safe environments is a great concern and burden for caregivers. The proposed research seeks to mitigate this risk, enhance the safety of patients, and reduce the economic and emotional burden on caregivers, by developing a comprehensive caregiver localization device to precisely locate in real time a patient's movement relative to the primary caregiver, while providing alerts to the caregiver for high risk movements during wandering or disorientation.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Small Business Innovation Research Grants (SBIR) - Phase I (R43)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1)
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Bhattacharyya, Partha
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Aster Labs, Inc.
United States
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