Feasibility of in-home sensor monitoring to detect mild cognitive impairment in aging military veterans: prospective observational study

Adriana Seelye, Mira Isabelle Leese, Katherine Dorociak, Nicole Bouranis, Nora Mattek, Nicole Sharma, Zachary Beattie, Thomas Riley, Jonathan Lee, Kevin Cosgrove, Nicole Fleming, Jessica Klinger, John Ferguson, Greg John Lamberty, Jeffrey Kaye

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: Aging military veterans are an important and growing population who are at an elevated risk for developing mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and Alzheimer dementia, which emerge insidiously and progress gradually. Traditional clinic-based assessments are administered infrequently, making these visits less ideal to capture the earliest signals of cognitive and daily functioning decline in older adults. Objective: This study aimed to evaluate the feasibility of a novel ecologically valid assessment approach that integrates passive in-home and mobile technologies to assess instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) that are not well captured by clinic-based assessment methods in an aging military veteran sample. Methods: Participants included 30 community-dwelling military veterans, classified as healthy controls (mean age 72.8, SD 4.9 years; n=15) or MCI (mean age 74.3, SD 6.0 years; n=15) using the Clinical Dementia Rating Scale. Participants were in relatively good health (mean modified Cumulative Illness Rating Scale score 23.1, SD 2.9) without evidence of depression (mean Geriatrics Depression Scale score 1.3, SD 1.6) or anxiety (mean generalized anxiety disorder questionnaire 1.3, SD 1.3) on self-report measures. Participants were clinically assessed at baseline and 12 months later with health and daily function questionnaires and neuropsychological testing. Daily computer use, medication taking, and physical activity and sleep data were collected via passive computer monitoring software, an instrumented pillbox, and a fitness tracker watch in participants’ environments for 12 months between clinical study visits. Results: Enrollment began in October 2018 and continued until the study groups were filled in January 2019. A total of 201 people called to participate following public posting and focused mailings. Most common exclusionary criteria included nonveteran status 11.4% (23/201), living too far from the study site 9.4% (19/201), and having exclusionary health concerns 17.9% (36/201). Five people have withdrawn from the study: 2 with unanticipated health conditions, 2 living in a vacation home for more than half of the year, and 1 who saw no direct benefit from the research study. At baseline, MCI participants had lower Montreal Cognitive Assessment (P<.001) and higher Functional Activities Questionnaire (P=.04) scores than healthy controls. Over seven months, research personnel visited participants’ homes a total of 73 times for technology maintenance. Technology maintenance visits were more prevalent for MCI participants (P=.04) than healthy controls. Conclusions: Installation and longitudinal deployment of a passive in-home IADL monitoring platform with an older adult military veteran sample was feasible. Knowledge gained from this pilot study will be used to help develop acceptable and effective home-based assessment tools that can be used to passively monitor cognition and daily functioning in older adult samples.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere16371
JournalJMIR Formative Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2020


  • Activities of daily living
  • Aging
  • Mild cognitive impairment
  • Technology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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