GIS: Helping People with Dementia-Related Disorders

Thanks, MT, Intro to GIS, for an interesting post.

A joint Israel-Germany research is planned on the subject of the well-being of elderly people with dementia-related problems. Specifically, it will look at the challenges of out-of-home mobility, as it is not uncommon to find people with disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease to go missing, or be found injured or dead. The project’s stated aim is to “address the measurement of mobility in Alzheimer’s disease and related cognitive disorders in an innovative way, by taking advantage of advanced tracking technologies,” such as GIS and GPS. Traditionally, out-of-home mobility of individuals with dementia-related disorders is measured by “observational approaches, activity monitoring, or behavioural checklists, “and is done by caregivers or institutional staff. This alternate approach using tracking technology would help to better understand the mobility patterns of these individuals; the research wants to develop a typology of out-of-home behaviour. Such information would be helpful for ITS (Intelligent Transportation Systems), which aims to assist people with dementia or disabilities on public transportation (RITA). In addition, the research states its intention to use statistical analysis to discover the differences in mobility patterns based on “socio-cultural, personality-related [and] environmental variables.” Basically they will attempt to tie together non-spatial, socio-psychological attribute data with spatial, mobility-pattern data to discover mobility patterns. In this way it is hoped that individuals afflicted with such diseases as Alzheimer’s could have an enhanced quality of life.

The research recognizes as well this approach’s potential as a diagnostic tool; if unique patterns are discovered, it could help identify dementia disorders in previously-undiagnosed individuals.

Interestingly, they want to also consider the ethical aspect of such an approach to helping people with dementia. The patients’ and caregivers’ quality of life of can be seriously impacted by the tracking technology.

In holding with the GIS tradition, this research is wholly interdisciplinary, with researchers from the Geography, Social Work, Gerontology, Psychology, and Medical fields.


      1. Sentra. The Use of Advanced Tracking Technologies for the Analysis of Mobility in Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Cognitive Disorders
      2. RITA, The Research and Innovative Technology Administration.
      3. Noam Shoval, Gail K Auslander, Tim Freytag, Ruth Landau, Frank Oswald, Ulrich Seidl, Hans-Werner Wahl, Shirli Werner, and Jeremia Heinik. 2008. “The Use of Advanced Tracking Technologies for the Analysis of Mobility in Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Cognitive Disorders” BMC Geriatrics

2 Responses to “GIS: Helping People with Dementia-Related Disorders”

  1. morison dony says:

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  2. If you ever want to read a reader’s feedback 🙂 , I rate this article for 4/5. Decent info, but I just have to go to that damn yahoo to find the missed parts. Thanks, anyway!