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J Vis Exp. 2019 Feb 8;(144). doi: 10.3791/58834.

Using a Real-Time Locating System to Measure Walking Activity Associated with Wandering Behaviors Among Institutionalized Older Adults.

Author information

School of Nursing, University of Delaware; Corporeal Michael J. Crescenz VA Medical Center;
Child and Family Studies, University of South Florida.
Department of Kinesiology and Applied Physiology, University of Delaware.


A real-time locating system (RTLS) can be used to track the walking activity of institutionalized older adults in long-term care who are at risk for wandering behaviors. The benefits of a RTLS are objective and continuous measurements of activity. Self-report methods of activity, especially wandering, by health care staff are vulnerable to floor effects and recall bias, and continuous clinical or research observation over the long-term can be time-consuming and expensive. Health care staff also fail to recognize the onset and/or duration of wandering behaviors, which are associated with a variety of adverse health outcomes in this population but amenable to intervention. RTLS technologies can measure the walking activity of institutionalized residents with cognitive impairment over time with a high degree of accuracy. This is particularly useful for the study of wandering, defined as walking for at least 60 seconds with few (if any) breaks in activity. Wandering is associated with disease progression, hospitalizations, falls and death. Previous work suggests older adults with poor balance ability and high sustained walking activity may be particularly susceptible to poor health outcomes. RTLS's are used to assess cognitive impairment and factors associated with gait and balance; however, supplemental paper and pencil gait/balance tools may be used to further refine risk profiles. This project discusses the use of a RTLS to measure walking activity and also gait quality and balance ability measures on this population.


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