Instrumentation & Measurement Magazine 24-2 - 8

Fig. 2. Elderly monitoring system measurement requirements.

cough, breathing difficulties, etc.), contagion events or signals from the environment (e.g., rooms, common areas, etc.),
biological validation for error detection, and activation of
therapeutic corrections and disinfection procedures. The monitoring system must include preventive measures as well, such
as digital mechanisms/tools to remind caregivers and the elderly to wash their hands. An example could be the integration
of smart faucet and soap dispenser devices into the monitoring system to track the number of times such activities are
performed. Another vital mechanism of infection control is
to disinfect surfaces continuously. For example, the monitoring system may include smart Ultraviolet (UV) light fixtures.
UV is attracting attention as a solution to disinfect surfaces and
high traffic entrances from the spread of COVID-19. The main
advantage of UV sterilization over manual disinfection solutions is that it is not wet and does not leave behind residue. UV
sterilization is commonly used in hospitals and food factories,
but it is not widely utilized in senior home facilities. The monitoring system may employ artificial intelligence algorithms
that decide and optimize the dose of UV light after measuring environmental variables (e.g., size, geometry, layout, type
of rooms, etc.).

Measurement of Physiological Parameters
The most reliable and objective measures of elderly patients'
health status is their vital signs. Recently, there was a noticeable
increase in research and development of wearable devices that
collect vital signs from at-risk patients. They allow healthcare
personnel to monitor the health condition of the patient continuously. Indeed, several physiological parameters and their
metrics could indicate signs of COVID-19 infection, including
heart rate, respiratory rate, heart rate variability, blood oxygen saturation, etc. [5]. The current pandemic shows an urgent
need to adopt wearable systems that can monitor changes in
these metrics. It would have lessened the burden on the healthcare workers and saved many lives. However, researchers
8	

should consider the following requirements to ensure
that such systems serve
their purpose efficiently.
First, we must design ergonomically-friendly
measurement devices that
can be worn by older people for a long time with
minimum discomfort. In
many cases, older people
have limited movement,
and they are unlikely to
tolerate devices that further obstruct their daily
activities. Furthermore, the
designer should create features that do not use a lot of
power and make it easy for
older people to charge the
batteries of these devices. Second, as a result of COVID-19, designers must look into innovative, wearable respiratory sensor
devices to measure air-flow (breathing), capable of detecting
respiratory diseases of the elderly and report its status in realtime. Third, system designers must explore customized device
features that are appealing to older people. Getting an elderly
person to accept attaching a device to their body is troublesome unless it offers a compelling and aesthetically pleasing
value through features that suit their age group. Fourth, monitoring systems must employ analytical algorithms in
conjunction with physiological parameters to predict infection
by continuously comparing metric changes with those related
to COVID-19.

Measurement and Estimation of Activities in
Daily Living
Activities of daily living (ADL) are actions that an elderly person takes to care for him/herself, including eating, bathing,
exercising, grooming, etc. These activities are not only an indication of good health but also provide insights into their
general cognitive well-being. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Canadian government instructed senior citizens
to have minimum contact with others, including visits from
family members. In such a situation, they must be self-reliant
to perform basic ADLs. A monitoring system that is capable
of collecting, measuring, and estimating the ADLs becomes
indispensable for caregivers and family members to have a
continuous update on the elderly. There are two main requirements for the realization of such a system: First, the elder's
environment must have instruments and devices to collect
data and the necessary parameters, e.g., motion detection,
appliance usage sensors, toilet usage sensors, etc. Second, the
monitoring system must have near-real-time processing of information based on context-awareness to identify and classify
specific ADLs using machine learning and artificial intelligence tools and algorithms.

IEEE Instrumentation & Measurement Magazine	

April 2021



Instrumentation & Measurement Magazine 24-2

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