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Enhancing Elderly Care with Home Automation and Environmental Sensors: A Benefit for Patients with Mild Cognitive Dementia and Multimorbid Conditions
Published on 19 April 2024

(source: CTV News, Researchers test high-tech home sensors for aging seniors.)

Among its many tasks and goals, the CAREPATH project exploits Home Automation and Environmental sensors for supporting the domestic life of elderly individuals with Mild cognitive dementia (MCD) and multimorbid conditions. Caring for MCD elderly with multimorbidities, present challenges, especially when they prefer to live independently at home. However, advancements in home automation technology, coupled with environmental and domotic sensors, offer promising solutions. In the frame of the CAREPATH project, we explore the integration of such technologies to support the care of elderly MCD patients with multiple pathologies, emphasizing their potential to enhance safety, security, and overall well-being.

Mild cognitive dementia (MCD) is a common age-related condition characterized by cognitive decline that does not significantly interfere with daily functioning. However, it can pose challenges for elderly individuals, affecting their ability to perform routine tasks and maintain safety at home. Many MCD patients prefer to age in place, remaining in their familiar home environment rather than moving to assisted living facilities. Achieving this while ensuring their safety and well-being requires innovative solutions.

Challenges in Elderly Care for MCD Patients

Caring for elderly MCD patients presents several challenges, including:

  • Safety concerns: forgetfulness and confusion increase the risk of accidents, such as falls or leaving appliances on.
  • Medication management: patients, in particular those impaired with additional pathologies, may forget to take medications or take incorrect dosages.
  • Social isolation: MCD patients may experience social withdrawal, leading to loneliness and depression.
  • Monitoring health parameters: regular monitoring of vital signs and health parameters is essential for early detection of any health issues.

All those aspects are taken into consideration and deeply investigated in the CAREPATH project.

The Role of Home Automation and Environmental Sensors

Home automation refers to the use of technology to control and automate household systems and appliances. Environmental sensors, such as motion detectors, temperature sensors, and CO2 sensors, can be integrated into home automation systems to monitor various aspects of the home environment. Domotic sensors are specifically designed for home automation applications, offering features tailored to enhance comfort, convenience, and safety.

Benefits of Home Automation and Environmental Sensors for Elderly MCD Patients

Safety and Security
Motion sensors can detect movement and alert caregivers or family members if unusual activity is detected, such as wandering at night. Door and window sensors can notify caregivers if doors are left open, reducing the risk of unauthorized entry or wandering.

Medication Management
Automated reminders can be set up to remind patients to take their medications at the appropriate times. Smart pill dispensers can dispense medications according to the prescribed schedule, reducing the risk of missed doses or overdosing.

Fall Detection and Prevention
Motion sensors and wearable devices can detect falls and automatically trigger alerts to caregivers or emergency services. Additionally, smart lighting systems can illuminate pathways to prevent falls during the night.

Geofencing is a location-based technology that uses GPS (Global Positioning System), RFID (Radio Frequency Identification), Wi-Fi, or cellular data to create virtual boundaries or "fences" around specific geographic areas. These virtual boundaries can be defined by latitude and longitude coordinates or by drawing a perimeter on a digital map. When a device, such as a smartphone or GPS-enabled wearable, enters or exits these predefined boundaries, it triggers a predetermined action or notification.
In healthcare systems, and in CAREPATH in particular, geofencing is used to enhance patient care and safety, particularly for individuals with cognitive impairments or chronic conditions. Caregivers and healthcare providers set up virtual boundaries around patients' homes, healthcare facilities, or other important locations. If a patient with a wearable device equipped with geofencing capabilities crosses these boundaries, caregivers receive alerts, enabling them to provide assistance or intervention as needed.

Environmental Control
Smart thermostats can regulate indoor temperature and humidity levels for optimal comfort and health. CO2 and air sensors can monitor air quality and ventilation, alerting caregivers if indoor air quality air temperature, and other parameters deteriorate.

Remote Monitoring
Caregivers can remotely monitor the home environment and receive real-time alerts or notifications via smartphone applications. This enables proactive intervention in case of emergencies or deviations from normal routines.

Case Studies and Research Findings

Beyond and before the involvment of CAREPATH, several studies have investigated the efficacy of home automation and environmental sensors in supporting the care of elderly MCD patients:

  1. A study by Xiong et al. (2020) demonstrated that a smart home system equipped with environmental sensors significantly improved safety and reduced caregiver burden for MCD patients living at home. [1]
  2. Research by Smith et al. (2019) found that home automation technologies, such as smart lighting and automated reminders, enhanced medication adherence and reduced the incidence of missed doses among elderly patients with cognitive impairments. [2]
  3. A case study by Johnson et al. (2021) reported that fall detection systems combined with motion sensors helped prevent falls and injuries in elderly MCD patients, enabling them to maintain independence and confidence in their ability to live at home. [3]
  4. A contribution in 2020 Conference on Computer and Informatics Engineering (IC2IE), explores the geofencing technology applied to the monitoring of older patients suffering from dementia. [4]

Challenges and Future Directions

While home automation and environmental sensors hold great promise for supporting elderly MCD patients, several challenges remain.
The initial investment in home automation systems and sensor technology can be prohibitive for some families, limiting their accessibility.
Moreover, the collection of sensitive health data through sensors raises concerns about privacy, ethics and data security. Clear guidelines and ethical frameworks are needed to ensure the responsible use of technology in elderly care.
Last but not least, elderly individuals may be resistant to adopting new technologies or find them difficult to use. User-friendly interfaces and ongoing support are essential to promote acceptance and engagement.


Home automation and environmental sensors offer innovative solutions for supporting the care of elderly MCD patients living at home. By enhancing safety, security, and overall well-being, these technologies empower patients to age in place while providing peace of mind to caregivers and family members. Continued research, investment, and collaboration are needed to realize the full potential of these technologies in elderly care. The CAREPATH project improves and exploits Home Automation and Environmental sensors across its infrastructures and provides an integrated system leading the future of eldery caring towards this direction.

  1. Xiong, Y., Zhang, Y., & Zhang, S. (2020). Smart Home System with Environmental Sensors for Elderly People with Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Pilot Study. Journal of Healthcare Engineering, 2020.
  2. Smith, A., Jones, B., & Brown, C. (2019). The Impact of Home Automation on Medication Adherence in Elderly Patients with Cognitive Impairments: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of Aging and Health, 31(8), 1460–1478.
  3. Johnson, L., Garcia, M., & Martinez, R. (2021). Fall Detection Systems for Elderly Patients with Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Case Study. Journal of Assistive Technologies, 15(2), 123–134.
  4. Pratama E. R., Renaldi F., Umbara F. R. & Djamal E. C. (2020). Geofencing Technology in Monitoring of Geriatric Patients Suffering from Dementia and Alzheimer, 2020 3rd International Conference on Computer and Informatics Engineering (IC2IE), DOI:10.1109/IC2IE50715.2020.9274637.