Next: Oregon Center for Aging and Technology

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Monday, October 01, 2007

 

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Take two and don’t bother calling us in the morning — we already know what you popped and when you popped ’em. And given enough time, your pill-taking habits will also reveal how well you’re holding up as you age. Researchers at the Oregon Center for Aging and Technology — part of Oregon Health & Science University — have developed technology that’s turned the homes of about 300 Portland-area seniors into living laboratories. The goal is to detect changes in human behavior — changes that can indicate memory loss or the onset of an illness. There’s the prototype pill dispenser that tracks when medication is taken and how often. Sensors scattered through a house monitor behavior patterns, how fast someone walks down a hallway or how often a refrigerator is opened. Day-to-day irregularities don’t matter; researchers are looking at long-term changes in patterns that aren’t evident in a routine checkup. What they’ll eventually do is use the nascent technology to develop products that can improve the health of the elderly. So look closely. Time is marching onward and that pill dispenser, with its easy-to-read days of the week, just may hold the secrets to your old age. ABRAHAM HYATT


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