Early detection of dementia stage transition through habit recognition

by Gibson Chimamiwa

Older individuals prefer to age in their home environments despite their vulnerability to chronic diseases and frailty. To make it easier for individuals suffering from dementia to live in their own homes for as long as possible, new smart home solutions are needed. Due to their cognitive decline, they are prone to frequent habit changes at various dementia stages, and hence they need particular support to manage these situations.

In order to meet the care needs of the patients at different stages of the cognitive impairment, smart home solutions need to know and reason upon the activities and habits of the patients and also be able to recognise habit changes in real time. The changes in habits indicate the transition of the patient from one stage of dementia to the other. Early recognition of such stage transitions could assist caregivers in providing treatment or other interventions to slow the progression to late-stage dementia.

The state-of-the-art in smart homes for dementia have focused on activity recognition. However, dementia patients experience changes in habits and therefore there is need to extend activity recognition to habit recognition. In habit recognition, the aim is to capture one or more activities that are performed in a regular and repeated way such as detecting that the user usually sleeps for 8 hours per day. Observed deviations from the habits could indicate that the patient is moving from one stage of dementia to another.

Overall, while smart home solutions based on activity recognition for dementia patients exist, they are insufficient to support patients with changing habits such as dementia patients. Our ambition is to extend activity recognition to habit recognition system in order to detect habit changes and determine dementia stage transition. The habit recognition system could eventually be implemented in patients’ homes to assist caregivers to slow the progression to late-stage dementia through treatment or other interventions. These interventions will also enable patients to remain longer in their preferred environments thereby reducing societal costs.

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