Difficulty completing everyday tasks is a primary reason for the high cost of care, loss of caregiver paid hours, and general caregiver burden associated with dementia. Electronic reminder applications hold promise as a low-cost solution to improve daily functioning, promote aging in place, and reduce caregiver burden and cost of care, particularly as older adults become more computer literate. There are many electronic reminders available for healthy individuals, but few have been developed to target the specific cognitive difficulties that impede completion of everyday tasks in people with dementia (i.e., premature decay of task goals, decreased motivation to perform tasks, distractibility, semantic knowledge degradation, etc.). Furthermore, there is a dearth of feasibility research on the fundamental efficacy and usability of reminder applications for people with dementia. This R21 proposal addresses these gaps with a feasibility study of the SmartPrompt, an enhanced electronic reminder aid designed for people with dementia that is used with an inexpensive smartphone. A diverse sample of older adults with mild dementia (N = 40) and their caregivers (N =40) will be trained to use the SmartPrompt and then asked to use the application to perform a target task (hydration, meals, or medication) twice per day in their homes for one week.
Aim 1 will test the hypothesis that the SmartPrompt is effective at promoting everyday task completion (i.e., efficacy) relative to a one- week control period without the SmartPrompt. Using an AB/BA crossover design, efficacy outcomes will be obtained during the SmartPrompt and Control Conditions and will include participant and caregiver reports of task completion, caregiver report of burden, and participant report of frustration Aim 2 will investigate whether the SmartPrompt will be perceived favorably by participants and caregivers and the extent to which technical support is needed for its use (i.e., usability). Usability measures will be obtained from caregivers (report of technical problems, questionnaire), participants (questionnaire), the study team (training time, technical support required), and the smartphone (i.e., measures of smartphone use, response times to prompts). A third exploratory aim is to examine participant and caregiver features that are associated with efficacy and usability outcomes, including participant cognitive profile, participant/caregiver demographics, computer proficiency and self-efficacy, desire to change, etc. Results will be used to inform 1) a working model of barriers and facilitators for the use and efficacy of prompting applications that may be tested in future studies and 2) SmartPrompt design modifications for a future Phase II clinical trial.
As older adults become increasingly computer literate, assistive technologies hold promise as a low- cost solution to improve daily functioning in people with dementia. The proposed feasibility study will investigate the efficacy and usability of an electronic reminder application designed specifically for people with dementia for use with commercially-available smartphones (SmartPrompt), as well as relations between efficacy and usability outcomes and participant/caregiver features. Results will inform modifications of the SmartPrompt for a future longer and larger clinical trial on the application's effectiveness in promoting aging in place and reducing caregiver burden and cost of care.