An Electronic Community for Alzheimer's Caregivers

Period of Performance: 09/30/2000 - 09/30/2002


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Waltham, MA 02451
Principal Investigator


The objective is to implement an interactive multimedia and tele- communication system targeted at medical, social and psychological needs of Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementia (ADRD) caregivers and patients. The system links ADRD caregivers, patients, and others from social services to physicians and hospitals into an "Electronic Community for Alzheimer's Caregivers" (ECAC). Improved care and life quality for ADRD caregivers and patients, with potential delay in in- stitutionalization results. There are 3 aims: Improve the prototype - new features include decreasing ADRD patient agitation, and videoconferencing support from Peer Mentors. Conduct randomized field trial with 50 control and 50 experimental group families. Participants are from capitated health plans associated with a Boston area hospital. Control families receive Web TV and assistant in accessing Web educational and reference material. Experimental families receive a multimedia PC, cable modem service, and access to ECAC system of education, skill training, behavior management tools, videoconferencing of Alzheimer's Association and peer mentors, and medical care linkage. In-depth analysis of effectiveness and benefits for family caregivers. Data includes baseline assessments of caregivers and patients; feature usage; and quarterly physical, psychological and social health. PROPOSED COMMERCIAL APPLICATION: The commercial application of the work is large and growing. There are 19 million Americans today with family members having ADRD. It is the 3rd most costly disease accounting for approximately $90 billion. As the population ages the number continues to grow rapidly. More support will be needed. 5-10% of all elderly have dementia, 2/3 live at home. The ADRD caregiver is subject to more illness and needs support.