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Improving Awareness, Access, Interest and Skill in the use of Aging Services Technologies (ASTs) for Individuals with Dementia, their Caregivers

Attorney General
6/1/2013 – 5/31/2015


Nearly 5.4 million American’s now suffer from Alzheimer’s disease (AD) or a related dementia, with estimated total Medicare spending expected to reach $1 trillion by 2050 if no preventative treatments become available. In addition, nearly 80% of adults over age 65 have at least one chronic health condition (e.g., macular degeneration, arthritis, dementia), and more than 50% need some assistance with everyday activities. Family caregivers, who are the backbone of the long-term care system (i.e., provide 80% of the in-home care), are also at increased risk for health problems.

In the past decade, there has been a proliferation of technology-based tools designed to enable older adults to live independently and reduce caregiver burden. Examples of such tools include fall detection devices, passive monitoring devices, talking watches, sound amplification devices, GPS units, social networking applications, and technology-enhanced memory aids. According to the 2012 Aging Services Technology Study Report to Congress,, there is strong evidence of both clinical and economic benefit for these technology-based tools. Of significance, the report also indicated that there is currently widespread underutilization of aging service technologies (ASTs) among consumers, caregivers and professionals due to the dearth of resources providing information about them, what they do, how they can be beneficial, where to purchase them, and how to use them. This underscores the importance of developing services that can improve awareness of, training in and access to technology-based assistive tools.

This project has two primary goals. The first goal is to distribute widely throughout WA state information about ASTs to consumers, caregivers and health-care professionals. The second goal is to pilot a program for training individuals to use ASTs and for creating a community lending library of ASTs.

Primary Investigator

Maureen Schmitter-Edgecombe, PhD
WSU College of Arts & Sciences