Patients with cognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia struggle to complete daily tasks like dressing, bathing, eating and cleaning and often depend on caregivers for assistance in these activities. Studies researching the relationship between patients and caregivers have found the act of dressing is stressful for both the patient and caregiver due to its level of difficulty, required engagement, and lack of privacy. Dressing is especially uncomfortable for children assisting a parent of the opposite gender.
A research team at NYU created a prototype of a “smart” dresser (DRESS) with the goal of introducing more independence into the lives of individuals suffering with cognitive disorders to increase safety and to reduce stress between patients and their caregivers.
DRESS is a five-drawer dresser installed with a tablet, camera, and motion sensor and organized with one piece of clothing per drawer to simplify the process of dressing. An individual using the system will wear a skin conductance sensor as a bracelet to activate the motion sensor and monitor stress levels. The system is activated and monitored by the caregiver through an application.
The patient will first hear an audio recording of their caregiver’s voice prompting them to open the first drawer, triggering the light marking it to turn on. Each drawer contains barcodes that are detected by the camera to determine whether a piece of clothing is properly put on. If the patient fulfils the first step, they can move onto the next drawer. If not, the dresser uses audio hints of reassurance and direction to aid the patient in correcting the mistake. If the individual continuously fails to apply clothing items and reports rising levels of frustration, the caregiver is notified for assistance (New York University, 2018)
DRESS is one of many products that have been recently released utilizing technology to better care for people with cognitive disorders.
New York University