Health Life

Researcher develops contact tracing technology

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

How does society establish a new normal during a pandemic?

A key approach involves contact tracing, in which public health officials alert anyone potentially exposed to a newly diagnosed patient within the past 14 days, the incubation period for COVID-19.

Contact tracing can be done with teams of public health officials, relying on a patient’s known contacts. Or it can be done with technology, alerting both known and unknown contacts, such as someone walking by at a grocery store.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Bilal Khan has developed a technology solution: a software application system that is ready to pilot. He is working with NUtech Ventures, the university’s commercialization affiliate, to find a community partner for implementation.

“Without technology, there is no efficient way to inform contacts who were passively exposed at a ,” said Khan, Happold Professor of Sociology and professor of computer science and engineering. “We also want to give people a richer, more personalized stream of data about how much risk they are taking on—which will help them make decisions about balancing their health risk with their economic risk.”

The was originally developed at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to study how human interactions—specifically, physical proximity to others—affect public health attitudes and behavior, as part of a sociology research project funded by the National Institutes of Health.

“Now, five years later, we have this system that already exists and doesn’t need to be designed and built from scratch,” Khan said. “That’s the fortuitous coincidence. Our goal is to leverage it and quickly put something into use.”

Users who download the app are assigned an anonymized identification number; it protects privacy by avoiding any connection to , such as names or phone numbers. The system then uses location and Bluetooth

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Older Adult Mental Health: MedlinePlus

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act as we cope with life. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, including as we age.

Many older adults are at risk for mental health problems. But this does not mean that mental health problems are a normal part of aging. Studies show that most older adults feel satisfied with their lives, even though they may have more illnesses or physical problems.

Sometimes, however, important life changes can make you feel uneasy, stressed, and sad. These changes could include the death of a loved one, retirement, or dealing with a serious illness. Many older adults will eventually adjust to the changes. But some people will have more trouble adjusting. This can put them at risk for mental disorders such as depression and anxiety.

It’s important to recognize and treat mental disorders in older adults. These disorders don’t just cause mental suffering. They can also make it harder for you to manage other health problems. This is especially true if those health problems are chronic.

Some of the warning signs of mental disorders in older adults include

  • Changes in mood or energy level
  • A change in your eating or sleeping habits
  • Withdrawing from the people and activities you enjoy
  • Feeling unusually confused, forgetful, angry, upset, worried, or scared
  • Feeling numb or like nothing matters
  • Having unexplained aches and pains
  • Feeling sadness or hopelessness
  • Smoking, drinking, or using drugs more than usual
  • Anger, irritability, or aggressiveness
  • Having thoughts and memories that you can’t get out of your head
  • Hearing voices or believing things that are not true
  • Thinking of harming yourself or others

If you think that you