SEATTLE – It’s often little impairments, like the inability to remember to take their daily medications or pay their monthly bills, that ultimately force the elderly from their own homes.
 
In our rapidly aging society, age-related and other cognitive impairments among the elderly are not only a significant source of individual and family emotional tragedy, but a tremendous drain on tax dollars. Research shows that if even 10 percent of the population could live at home another year or more, it would save the state nearly $10 million every day.
 
WSU professor and psychologist Maureen Schmitter-Edgecombe, in collaboration with colleagues, is working to create “smart” apartments for people with impaired cognitive function. The team combines neuropsychology with applied technology to explore the benefits, drawbacks and limitations of using assistive technologies in a home setting.
 
Her work promises far more than high-tech apartments filled with sensors and computers – it offers new techniques and new hope for aging independently in place.
 
Schmitter-Edgecombe will be in Seattle to present “The Future of Aging in Place: Merging psychology and technology to help us live independently longer,” as part of WSU’s continuing “Innovators” lecture series. The presentation will be at noon Wednesday, Dec. 8, in the Spanish Ballroom of the Fairmont Olympic Hotel, 411 University St.
 
Luncheon registration is available online at www.theinnovators.wsu.edu or by calling 877-978-3868. Lunch is $45 per person.
 
“We know that if we can keep people in their homes just a little bit longer, that will provide significant savings to society,” said Schmitter-Edgecombe. “It also is very meaningful for the person and their caregivers to be able to do that in a way that’s going to show good quality of life and be of benefit to the caregiver.”
 
Schmitter-Edgecombe’s research interests include clinical and cognitive neuropsychology, memory and executive abilities, everyday functional skills, and traumatic brain injury. Her research focuses on evaluating attention, memory and executive functioning issues in both neurological normal and clinical populations.
 
The long-term goal of her work is to bridge basic science research with rehabilitation techniques and, more recently, with the development of smart environment technologies. Her research studies are designed to answer questions of both theoretical and practical importance.