Reducing Dangerous Nighttime Events in Persons with Dementia Using a Nighttime Monitoring System

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Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, nighttime activity, sleep, caregivers, injury, technology, monitoring system

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Background: Nighttime activity, a common occurrence in persons with dementia, increases the risk for injury and unattended home exits and impairs the sleep patterns of caregivers. Technology is needed that will alert caregivers of nighttime activity in persons with dementia to help prevent injuries and unattended exits.

Methods: As part of a product development grant, a controlled pilot study was conducted to test the effectiveness of a new night monitoring system designed for informal caregivers to use in the home. Data from 53 subjects were collected at nine points in time during a 12-month period regarding injuries and unattended home exits that occurred while the caregiver slept. Nighttime activity frequently resulted in nursing home placement.

Results: The night monitoring system proved a reliable adjunct to assist caregivers in managing nighttime activity. A total of nine events (injuries or unattended home exits) occurred during the study, with 6 events occurring in the control group. With intent-to-treat analysis, there was no difference between the groups. However, in a secondary analysis that was based on use of the intervention, experimental subjects were 85% less likely to sustain an event than control subjects.

Conclusions: When nighttime activity occurred, it resulted in severe injuries sometimes associated with subsequent nursing home placement. The night monitoring system represents a new technology that caregivers can use to assist them in preventing nighttime injuries and unattended home exits in care recipients with dementia.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Alzheimer's & Dementia, v. 5, issue 5, p. 419-426