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Alzheimer’s Association and Intel Look to Everyday Technologies to Improve Care for Those with Alzheimer's

The Alzheimer’s Association in partnership with Intel Corporation recently awarded a grant to Diane Mahoney, Ph.D., Director of Enhancing Caregiving through Technology at the Research and Training Institute of Hebrew Rehabilitation Center for Aged. She was selected, along with five other researchers, for her work concentrating on how everyday electronic devices such as computers and telephones can be used to meet the day-to-day needs of people with Alzheimer’s disease and those who care for them. The grants were awarded through The Everyday Technologies for Alzheimer Care (ETAC) consortium founded by the Alzheimer’s Association and Intel Corporation in 2003.  Each ETAC consortium award will be for three years and is limited to $200,000 total cost, with a maximum request of $90,000 in any year.

Dr. Mahoney will research what features caregivers and health professionals like or dislike in home monitoring systems. She will look at end user preferences ranging from the types of activities that are desired to be monitored to how the information is received (PDA, cell phone, etc.). In addition, Dr. Mahoney will adapt a community-based home monitoring system that she has developed for  use in a senior residential setting. This system allows a caregiver to monitor the activities of an individual from a remote location. Sensors placed in the patient’s home indicate whether he or she has, for example, opened a cabinet to retrieve medications at the appropriate time or the refrigerator door at mealtime. If key activities have not occurred, then an alert is sent to the designated caregiver.  Alternatively, caregivers can check in at any time via the Internet to ensure that “everything is ok” at home.

ETAC’s goal is to advance research in:

  • Detecting and preparing for the onset of functional decline for those with Alzheimer’s.
  • Delaying the onset of disabling symptoms in Alzheimer’s.
  • Providing support for caregivers to help alleviate stress and depression.
  • Postponing or preventing institutional placement.

“Today, 70 percent of the 4.5 million Americans with Alzheimer’s disease live at home where family and friends provide most of their care,” said William Thies, Ph.D., vice president for Medical & Scientific Affairs at the Alzheimer’s Association.  “It is imperative that we explore how technology can be used to save costs associated with institutional care, ease caregiver anxiety and help those with Alzheimer’s improve their daily living.”

“The economic and emotional impacts of Alzheimer’s on the economy, the workforce, and the everyday lives of people worldwide are enormous,” said Eric Dishman, principal engineer and director of Intel’s proactive health research. “Intel and the Alzheimer’s Association created ETAC to bring much-needed attention and research dollars to new, home-oriented technologies that might help mitigate the impact of this disease and possibly detect its onset earlier than we can today using traditional clinical instruments.  We are pleased to support the first five research grants awarded by the consortium and look forward to the results of this pioneering research.”