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A senior woman is sitting on a bed in front of a computer screen

Bruyère has been featured in the Intelligent Health Association i-Home Magazine


SAM3 – Developing and Testing Technology to support dignity, independence, and the greatest quality of life for aging Canadians.
Imagine if technology could make the lives of the elderly and your loved ones safer at home.

Here is the story of how technology is helping Gerard and Lois Chetelat. Gerard is 92 years old. At this very moment he is fighting with advanced dementia.

A dementia diagnosis is something that affects the whole family. For Lois Chetelat, Gerard’s wife and life partner, the diagnosis means hours of caregiving. It means an immeasurable amount of worry and restless nights thinking about her husband’s well-being. It also means she is constantly asking herself: is tonight the night Gerard will wander out into the cold? In a place like Ottawa, Canada, this can mean life or death.

This question echoes in the minds of many caregivers, which is why scientists at the Bruyère Research Institute and Carleton University are developing technology that can help.

Gerard and Lois are partners in this research. They have had their home outfitted with several motion sensors and speakers, connected to an alarm system, designed by the Champlain LHIN IMPACTT Centre in Ottawa. If Gerard leaves his bed at night, a pressure sensor under the mattress sends a message to the home’s computer hub. This triggers a light to go on in the bathroom to lead him there. If he returns to bed, the systems goes back to sleep with him.

If he veers off the lit path set out for him, maybe to go get a drink of water, a speaker is triggered with a voice that will remind Gerard to go back to bed. In this case, the speaker is programmed with Lois’ voice saying, “Gerard, it is still nighttime, come back to bed.”

If this reminder fails, and Gerard goes to wander outside, the sensors on the door trigger a gentle alarm intended to wake Lois—indicating that Gerard has left the home and she has to get up and retrieve him.

The system is showing great promise for reducing stress and burden on caregivers. Now if Gerard wanders in his home at night, Lois remains asleep as she knows she has support to keep Gerard safe and living with her rather than in a care home.
Read about how we are developing this technology in the Intelligent Health Association (IHA) 2019 i-Home Magazine.