Monitoring Behaviors of Patients With Late-Stage Dementia Using Passive Environmental Sensing Approaches: A Case Series

Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2022 Jan;30(1):1-11. doi: 10.1016/j.jagp.2021.04.008. Epub 2021 Apr 22.


Objective: To show the feasibility of using different unobtrusive activity-sensing technologies to provide objective behavioral markers of persons with dementia (PwD).

Design: Monitored the behaviors of two PwD living in memory care unit using the Oregon Center for Aging & Technology (ORCATECH) platform, and the behaviors of two PwD living in assisted living facility using the Emerald device.

Setting: A memory care unit in Portland, Oregon and an assisted living facility in Framingham, Massachusetts.

Participants: A 63-year-old male with Alzheimer's disease (AD), and an 80-year-old female with frontotemporal dementia, both lived in a memory care unit in Portland, Oregon. An 89-year-old woman with a diagnosis of AD, and an 85-year-old woman with a diagnosis of major neurocognitive disorder, Alzheimer's type with behavioral symptoms, both resided at an assisted living facility in Framingham, Massachusetts.

Measurements: These include: sleep quality measured by the bed pressure mat; number of transitions between spaces and dwell times in different spaces measured by the motion sensors; activity levels measured by the wearable actigraphy device; and couch usage and limb movements measured by the Emerald device.

Results: Number of transitions between spaces can identify the patient's episodes of agitation; activity levels correlate well with the patient's excessive level of agitation and lack of movement when the patient received potentially inappropriate medication and neared the end of life; couch usage can detect the patient's increased level of apathy; and periodic limb movements can help detect risperidone-induced side effects. This is the first demonstration that the ORCATECH platform and the Emerald device can measure such activities.

Conclusion: The use of technologies for monitoring behaviors of PwD can provide more objective and intensive measurements of PwD behaviors.

Keywords: Alzheimer's disease; Unobtrusive activity-sensing technology; agitation; apathy; behavioral and psychological symptoms; end-of-life; late-stage dementia; potentially inappropriate medication; technology.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Actigraphy
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease* / diagnosis
  • Alzheimer Disease* / psychology
  • Behavioral Symptoms
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male