Taking one’s medications as they were prescribed is essential to managing disease but sometimes a challenge in adults undergoing age-related or other kinds of memory changes. Using theory and evidence specifically about prospective memory (remembering to do something you intend to do), University of Arizona College of Nursing Professor, Dr. Kathie Insel, is striving to assure that older adults are helped to take their medications as prescribed. Having learned that cognitive functions called executive function and working memory (associated with successful prospective memory) also affect remembering to take medications, in prior work, Dr. Insel tested the behavioral intervention designed to support prospective memory and improve remembering to take medications. Applying the results of her prior research, which has been years in development, she and her team are now debuting a mobile app that could have wide-reaching implications for helping older adults in general and others who experience certain brain changes as a consequence of illness and/or treatment, e.g., treatment with chemotherapy sometimes referred to as “chemo brain”.
Dr. Insel and her colleagues, Dr. Jeannie Lee from the UA College of Pharmacy, Drs. Wendy Rogers and Dan Morrow from the University of Illinois, Dr. Gil Einstein of Furman University and Dr. Tracy Mitzner of Georgia Institute of Technology, are working with local Tucson company Ephibian to design and execute an app for smartphones that translates the essence of Dr. Insel’s behavioral intervention into consistent daily reminder support and more. The overall intent is to make self-management of chronic conditions easier and more successful, thus promoting continued independent living for as long as possible among older adults.