Various studies are testing and tracking the elderly to look for earlier predictors of dementia.
Of course, there is still the problem of treatment even after the most likely victims are identified. There are medications like Namenda that slow down the progress of dementia, but currently there are no cures.
It's like spying in the name of science - with permission - to see if round-the-clock tracking of elderly people's movements can provide early clues if impending Alzheimer's disease.
Now it takes years to determine if someone's developing dementia," laments Dr. Jeffrey Kaye of Oregon Health & Science University, which is placing the monitors in 300 homes of Portland-area octogenarians as part of a $7 million federally funded project.
Early predictors may be as simple as variations in speed while people walk their hallways, or getting slower at dressing or typing.
Researchers at New York's Mount Sinai School of Medicine are heading a study that ultimately plans to recruit 600 people over age 75 to help test in-home "kiosks" that turn on automatically to administer monthly cognitive exams. A video of a smiling scientist appears on-screen to talk participants through such classic tests as reading a string of words and then, minutes later, repeating how many they recall, or seeing how quickly they complete connect-the-dot patterns.
Finally, a souped-up pill dispenser called the MedTracker is added to some of the studies, wirelessly recording when drugs are forgotten or taken late.