Caring Light for Family Caregivers

Period of Performance: 05/01/2017 - 04/30/2018


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Photozig, Inc.
Moffett Field, CA 94035
Principal Investigator


Project Summary: Every 66 seconds, someone in US develops Alzheimer?s Disease, a progressive irreversible neurodegenerative disease, causing distress not only to dementia patients, but also to caregivers (15+ million), who are the hidden patients with high incidence of stress (60%) and depression (30%+). Due to this significant problem, effective, low-cost, and accessible interventions are needed to help dementia caregivers to deal with the caring demands, heavy emotional toll, life changes, and overwhelming experiences. A promising delivery mechanism is the smartphone, because: a) adoption is very high and growing (e.g. during our Phase II in 2019, 84% to 95% of adults ages 18-64 are expected to own smartphones ? and according to CDC, most of dementia caregivers (77%) are younger than 65 years, which is a fairly large group); and b) 98% of Americans nationwide have access to mobile broadband (according to the White House). Therefore, we propose a unique intervention by integrating our Coping with Caregiving (CWC) curriculum, mindfulness (MBSR), self-paced approach, and mobile app delivery, which has not been created before, called Caring Light App (CLA) to enhance caregiver coping skills, reduce stress, and alleviate depression. Our project will have a high impact because: 1) the blending of CWC and mindfulness is expected to be very effective, based on our preliminary studies and other research results; 2) the proposed program is low-cost ($4.99/year per person); and 3) CLA intervention will be accessible to a large group of caregivers as a mobile app, allowing its broad dissemination to innumerous families struggling with Alzheimer?s and related dementia. CWC was developed in evidence-based procedures by Dr. Gallagher-Thompson and associates, evaluated in many randomized clinical trials (e.g. as a component of the NIH-funded national research project REACH, ?Resources for Enhancing Alzheimer?s Caregiver Health?), enhanced throughout the years, and successfully converted into effective self-paced passive programs, such as iCare and Webnovela. Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) was developed by Dr. Kabat-Zinn and adopted in many settings. It includes the practice of mindfulness, breathing, and meditation; and it was applied in innumerous programs to reduce stress, anxiety, depression, chronic pain, and other symptoms for several medical conditions. By integrating mindfulness practice with our proven CWC curriculum in a new mobile app, we will create a novel program for caregivers, blending training (coping skills, techniques to deal with dementia, practical tips on difficult behaviors, etc.) with stress reducing strategies (e.g. guided meditation, gentle stretches, and other mindfulness exercises), which is expected to be well accepted and easy to use by caregivers. In partnership with the Alzheimer?s Association, Stanford University, and caregivers, we will develop and evaluate a prototype in Phase I. We will assess the effectiveness of the complete CLA (with all modules) in improving well-being, and alleviating stress with a randomized clinical trial in Phase II.