Technology Background

AttentiveCare was originally developed to meet the needs of three long-distance caregivers - three brothers who were primary caregivers to their mother who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 1994. The brothers lived three to five hours away and had full-time jobs. AttentiveCare was conceived and developed to enhance the support provided to their mother, optimize the time the caregivers had available to devote to caregiving, and maintain their mother's independence, keeping her on the family farm for as long as possible.

The first prototype system became operational in December 2001. The technology exceeded all of their expectations and quickly became an integral part of their intervention strategy. It enabled their mother to remain the farm for the next 2 ½ years, which is where she wanted to be. In addition to improving care, the system's videoconferencing capability enriched the life of their mother and the lives of the brothers. It enabled the caregivers to make their mother a part of their daily lives.

Original Pilot Study - How the Technology Developed

In 2001, my two brothers and I, Ken Nixon, were facing a tough decision: "How are we going to continue to care for our mother, who had Alzheimer's?"

Broadband Internet service became available from the local telephone company in early 2001. With that service, we decided to setup a videoconferencing capability with our mother. This involved installing a broadband Internet connection and a computer system with a video cam in her home.

We started using the system productively in December 2001. Since we implemented the system using off-the-shelf products, we quickly came to the realization that off-the-shelf products left a lot to be desired for our caregiving environment. These products are not designed to run unattended or for someone who has no computer skills, much less someone with Alzheimer's. With our background in information system and communications technology, we were able to make it work and keep it operational, however, not without a great deal of difficultly. It should be noted that many of the requirements identified in the original pilot have been integrated into the design of AttentiveCare.

Our intervention strategy included weekly onsite visits complemented with the Internet-based technology. One of us would be onsite every weekend. However, our mother could look forward to seeing at least one of us every day, via videoconference.

I had coffee with her almost every morning no matter where I was - at home or at work. Either me or one my two borthers would videoconference with her in the evening to visit and remind her to take her medications. On weekends, she would likely see all three of us.

After eighteen (18) months, the Internet-based technology and weekly onsite visits were complemented by professional in-home support of two hours per day, five days per week. The primary objectives of the professional in-home care were to provide social interaction for our mother and keep her physically active (up and out of the recliner). This support continued for the next twelve (12) months.

With the technology, we were able to maintain our mother's quality of life and independence up until the last sixty days of her life. She regrettably developed cancer and passed away in July 2004. If it were not for the other health problems, our intervention strategy was to gradually increase the professional onsite support as needed and give the professional in-home care provider Internet access to our mother's system.

Other AttentiveCare Pilot Accounts

Caregiver Technologies has installed other AttentiveCare pilot accounts in a variety of caregiving situations. The same basic results are being realized as in the original pilot. Caregivers are able to keep the care receiver in comfortable, familiar surroundings for a longer period of time, be it in an individual residence, an independent living center or assisted living center.

AttentiveCare is helping to meet the needs of caregivers as well; it has contributed to caregivers having freedom to travel and to execute their caregiving responsibilities wherever they are, including halfway around the world.