Becky Doane and her husband, Rick, loved traveling. The pair said making memories together has kept their marriage strong. But, when Rick was diagnosed with dementia, it was devastating.
“We were too far along in the process,” Becky said, “before it was diagnosed.”
But there is a new effort underway that could help families diagnose dementia early, using technology that is already in homes across the country.
The National Institute of Aging awarded researchers over $1 million in grant money to use voice assistant systems, like Amazon’s Alexa or Google’s Home, to detect dementia through changes in a user’s speech.
The health and medical study will take four years. At the end of the study, the NIA hopes researchers will have a new low-cost, passive and practical early dementia detection program.
“Sometimes it’s among the earliest signs,” said Dr. Jaclynn Faffer, president & CEO of Naples Senior Center. “Word substitution, for example. Instead of saying, ‘Pass me the salad dressing,’ they might say, ‘Pass me the salad sauce.’”
Dr. Faffer said early detection could help families get treatment earlier and make big decisions.