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Activation thresholds and operating characteristics of commercial alarm products to provide surveillance for dementia caregivers

S.P. Applegarth, M. Rowe, W. Kearns, M.E. Bowen

Gerontechnology 2013; 11(3):480-487 doi:


Objective A laboratory evaluation was conducted on selected commercial technologies designed to prevent or manage dementia-related missing incidents from the home. Methods Fourteen products representing four unique categories (Pressure Activated Systems, Pull Tab Alarms, Audible Alarms, and Optically Activated Alarms) of behavioral management were evaluated under controlled laboratory conditions for: sound pressure levels (dB), power consumption (watts), battery life, and alarm frequency (pitch). Other variables such as activation force and monitoring/tracking capabilities were tested where applicable to the device category. Results There was wide performance variability regardless of device category, indicating that the devices may fail to successfully capture a missing incident. Implications The development of standardized protocols for testing devices intended for use in the home setting coupled with a broader evaluation of existing technologies would provide a more complete understanding of which products may manage or inhibit missing incidents in persons with dementia.
Keywords: executive function deficits; wayfinding; surveillance; wandering

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Gerontechnology (ISSN/EISSN 1569-1101 1569-111X) is the official journal of the International Society for Gerontechnology