Dementia sufferers could be monitored with online tracking devices which would record every move they make, say scientists.

British researchers are studying the use of movement trackers which can give dementia patients and their carers intimate details about their lives, including when they go to bed and how much time they spend sitting in front of the television.

Dr Chris Pickford, of the University of Salford, said the technology could provide unique insights into patients' conditions and help spot problems before they become serious.

But critics have raised concerns about whether the use of such devices is ethical and warned that sensitive health data could be 'misused'.


Health wristbands such as Fitbits and other wearable devices - which measure information about the body such as heart rate or the number of steps taken in a day - are increasingly popular among health-conscious adults.

But this is believed to be the first time such a device has been suggested to monitor patients with cognitive impairments such as dementia.

The activPAL tracker, which is strapped to the bottom of the leg, measures all movement from side to side, up and down, and backwards and forwards.

It sends the information back to a computer which analyses it to provide details about how long a patient spends sitting, how active they are, when they eat, whether they are going to bed at the right time and how many times they get up in the night.

Speaking at the Dementia Congress 2016 in Brighton, Dr Pickford said he was inspired to research the subject after caring for his grandmother who had dementia.

"We didn't really understand at the time what was going on," he added. "If we had little bits of data and could gather all that together to help explain, it would have made it so much easier for us."

But other experts raised questions over whether the practice was ethical. Dementia specialist consultant Hilary Woodhead said: "There are so many issues around consent and permission. What concerns me is things can be shared so freely."