App shows potential in independent living studies

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Two studies of an app are showing promise for enhancing the physical health, vitality and brain fitness of older adults residing in independent living communities.

The app, called eSeniorCare and developed by researchers at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, is designed to enable residents to remain independent while allowing health workers to proactively reach out to at-risk residents when they need help.

Residents can use the app to:

  • Connect with care providers by sending concerns and questions as text or voice messages.
  • Set health goals and track progress related to them.
  • Send health goal information to resident health administrators for guidance, reflection and personal motivation.
  • Enhance cognitive health and avoid impairment of mental function through the playing of “brain games” such as crossword and Sudoku puzzles.

The app also features medication scheduling and management capability, a place for medication history, medication reminders and medication adherence. Medication reminders have textual, audio and video components. Because the app is interactive, caregivers can can intervene if medications are not being taken correctly or being renewed on time.

In collaboration with Beacon Health System, eSeniorCare was first rolled out at two senior independent living communities in South Bend, IN. In one pilot study, researchers found that seniors' technology comfort and literacy increased, and one participant saw a decrease in depression risk. An increase in interpersonal interactions among all participants also was seen.

In a second pilot study under way at additional independent living communities, initial results reveal high engagement with brain games, with residents reporting a sense of purpose and an increase in mental stimulation. Use of the communication component to connect with care providers and maintain positive relationships also has proved successful, they said.

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