The TAFETA Research Program Facilitates Aging in Place

The TAFETA Research Program, collaboration between the Bruyère Research Institute and Carleton University, has been doing research on the use of technology to facilitate Aging in Place for over a dozen years. In collaboration with the Champlain LHIN IMPACTT Centre, we have been testing a Night-time Wandering Detection and Diversion system in the homes of older adults with dementia living with a caregiver. The dual purpose of this technology is 1) to redirect the person with dementia (PWD) back to bed to reduce the risk of wandering out of the home at night, and 2) to help the caregiver sleep better nights and hence be more rested caregiver the next day.

The system we are testing uses off the shelf smart-home technologies such as motion and contact sensors, pressure sensitive bed mats, smart speakers, and smart lights. The system is connected to the Internet via a hub, and is programmed to follow some simple commands. When the PWD gets up from bed, during the night, the pressure sensor under the mattress is triggered and the command is to turn on the light, guiding the PWD to the bathroom. If the PWD goes back to bed, the command is to turn off the light. If the PWD goes to the kitchen, a motion sensor there picks up the movement and the command is to play a pre-recorded message from the caregiver, suggesting that they go back to bed. Only if they go out the main door, do alarms go off to wake the caregiver.

The system has a flexible design allowing it to be adapted to meet the needs of diverse types of homes. After testing the system in close to a dozen individual homes in Ottawa, we are now ready to test the system in a community setting. We are very pleased to do this at the Waterford retirement home. This developing collaboration will allow us to adapt the system to this type of setting and work with staff and families to ensure the system’s utility.

TAFETA is co-led by Dr. Frank Knoefel, Physician with the Bruyère Memory Program, and Dr. Rafik Goubran, Vice-President of Research and International at Carleton University.  Learn more on the TAFETA website.