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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Health Note: Memory Aid

Air Date: Week of

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Living on Earth’s Diane Toomey reports on how a new technology may one day help older patients remember to take their pills.


CURWOOD: Coming up, rethinking the best way to protect clean air. First, this Environmental Health Note from Diane Toomey.


TOOMEY: As the world's population continues to age, some scientists are exploring ways in which technology can help the elderly. One such device is the pill pet. It's an electronic alarm under development at M.I.T.'s Age Lab, and researchers hope it will be too cute to be ignored. A pill pet is a brightly colored round furball with ears. About the size of a small pillow, it contains a computer screen in its belly. After programming, the pill pet makes a beeping sound when it's time for its owner to take medication. The computer screen tells the patient what pill to take, but researchers envision a talking pill pet one day. The pill pet works, in part, because it needs attention. If you don't press a button to confirm you've taken your medication, the pet becomes ill and eventually dies an electronic death. It then has to be taken back to a doctor or pharmacist for reprogramming. In trials, elderly women who had taken pill pets home grew so attached to them, they didn't want to give them back. At the moment, though, the pill pet is still being developed and isn't for sale. That's this week's Health Update, I'm Diane Toomey.

CURWOOD: And you're listening to Living on Earth.

[MUSIC: Ikarus, "Touched the Sun," TOUCH THE SUN (EarthTone - 2001)]



press release from the MIT's AgeLab">


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