Background: Driving is a key functional activity for many older adults, and changes in routine driving may be associated with emerging cognitive decline due to early neurodegenerative disease. Current methods for assessing driving such as self-report are inadequate for identifying and monitoring subtle changes in driving patterns that may be the earliest signals of functional change in developing mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Objective: This proof of concept study aimed to establish the feasibility of continuous driving monitoring in a sample of cognitively normal and MCI older adults for an average of 206 days using an unobtrusive driving sensor and demonstrate that derived sensor-based driving metrics could effectively discriminate between MCI and cognitively intact groups. Methods: Novel objective driving measures derived from 6 months of routine driving monitoring were examined in older adults with intact cognition (n = 21) and MCI (n = 7) who were enrolled in the Oregon Center for Aging and Technology (ORCATECH) longitudinal assessment program. Results: Unobtrusive continuous monitoring of older adults' routine driving using a driving sensor was feasible and well accepted. MCI participants drove fewer miles and spent less time on the highway per day than cognitively intact participants. MCI drivers showed less day-to-day fluctuations in their driving habits than cognitively intact drivers. Conclusion: Sensor-based driving measures are objective, unobtrusive, and can be assessed every time a person drives his or her vehicle to identify clinically meaningful changes in daily driving. This novel methodology has the potential to be useful for the early detection and monitoring of changes in daily functioning within individuals.
- cognitive decline
- mild neurocognitive disorder