On-Line Web Course Improves Older Persons Memory Skills

Period of Performance: 09/01/2003 - 08/31/2005


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Compact Disc, Inc.
Silver Spring, MD 20905
Principal Investigator


DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): COMPACT proposes research to utilize the Web to deliver a curriculum of highly accessible courses for improving the personal memory skills of able-minded older adults. Conventional classroom memory training is labor intensive, costly and not practical for elderly adults in rural areas or who have limited mobility. For over four years NIA has supported The ACTIVE (for Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly) Study to show that group-based cognitive intervention can help reduce disability, delay nursing home placement and improve quality of life in later adulthood. Alternative modes of cognitive intervention for the elderly are needed and can be as effective as in vivo group-based interventions like ACTIVE. The Web is a new mode of distance learning for older adults that promotes social interchange, via E-mail and online Chat, an important concomitant of late life learning and a deterrent to loneliness among the elderly. This study examines the effectiveness of individualized Web memory training via MemoryUniversity.com. As in ACTIVE, we will assess the effect of our cognitive intervention on "proximal" outcome measures directly related to memory performance in everyday life and "distal" measures more strongly associated with hospitalization and need for formal care. Phase II aims: 1) produce Web courses offering a curriculum focused on memory improvement, including background information, strategy training assessment, and practice components; 2) assess the acceptability and functionality of the Web site among older adults; 3) test the efficacy of the courses in changing older adults' knowledge, attitudes, and intended behaviors toward memory enhancement specifically, and quality of life more generally. PROPOSED COMMERCIAL APPLICATION: The On-Line Memory University memory skill training courses is for individuals via the Practical Memory Institute (PMI), and PMI mini-sites at membership organization web sites e.g., Novarti's HealthAndAge.com, AARP.org, SeniorNET.org, ThirdAge.com etc.; 2) to corporate and governmental organizations via license to Global Learning Systems, Inc.; 3) to online seniors at assisted living facilities (e.g., LinkAges.org & Sunrise Assisted Living); 4) to Professional memory trainers via APA's Div 20; and 5) rehabilitation professionals at the VA, Society of Cognitive Rehabilitation, American Speech Language Hearing Assn.