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Using Rendever to improve the quality of life of older adults with cognitive impairments in senior living communities and their family members who live at a distance.

Award Information
Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
Branch: National Institutes of Health
Contract: 2R42AG063640-02
Agency Tracking Number: R42AG063640
Amount: $1,996,037.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: STTR
Solicitation Topic Code: NIA
Solicitation Number: PAS19-317
Solicitation Year: 2019
Award Year: 2021
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2021-08-15
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2023-07-31
Small Business Information
Cambridge, MA 02138-6823
United States
DUNS: 080552593
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 (585) 734-0204
Business Contact
Phone: (585) 734-0204
Research Institution
SANTA BARBARA, CA 93106-0001
United States

 Nonprofit College or University

The United States is experiencing a public health crisis on a massive scale due to the number of people with
dementia, lack of cures, and challenges associated with caregiving for this population.1,2 Until cures for the
dementias are discovered, new technologies and interventions are imperative that can reduce the stress and
emotional burden of Alzheimerandapos;s disease (AD) and Alzheimerandapos;s disease-related-dementias (ADRD) for older
adults and their family members (NIA strategic plan). Unfortunately, COVID-19 has exacerbated challenges
related to social isolation and poor mental health in senior living communities. The virtual reality (VR)
program, Rendever, provides an innovative and affordable solution to these challenges by enabling older adults
in senior living communities to maintain important family relationships, engage fully with life, and reconnect
with their past, regardless of physical location, through its advanced communication and network capabilities.
There is neurological, behavioral, and physiological evidence that virtual environments allow people to feel the
emotional presence of others in ways that surpass their location in space.3 Unfortunately, little research has
examined its impact on older adultsandapos; social relationships, primarily due of a lack of networking and
communication capabilities of other VR programs. Phase I tested the feasibility of Rendever with residents
with mild cognitive impairments (MCI) or mild to moderate dementia and their family members who lived at a
distance. Our results showed it to be safe, easy to use, highly satisfying, and transformative for the 21 resident-
family member dyads who used it. Residents with MCI and dementia equally loved the VR, with residents with
dementia reporting greater immersion. This Phase II project expands our test of the livestreaming and network
features of Rendever with 192 resident-adult child dyads across 12 senior living communities in Central
California and Boston with an experimental design. Our aims focus on the impact of Rendever on the quality of
life of residents and their adult children who live at a distance and whether this association depends upon
residentsandapos; level of cognitive impairment. We also focus on the adult children and whether participating in
Rendever with their parent reduces care-giver guilt. If Phase II is successful, Rendever will be the only product
that allows residents to still travel, view family photos and videos, and go back in time to oneandapos;s childhood home
and other memorable locations with oneandapos;s family in VR and share stories while doing it, despite geographical
separation and cognitive/physical challenges. Importantly, Phase II will provide a rigorous, scientific test of
whether Rendever can improve residentsandapos; and family membersandapos; quality of life.This Phase II STTR continues to refine and test the livestreaming and networking capabilities of Rendever,
which is a virtual reality (VR) platform designed to help older adults maintain important family relationships,
engage fully with life, and reconnect with their past. Specifically, we examine the impact of Rendever on the
quality of life of residents in senior living communities and their adult children who live at a distance, and
determine whether this impact depends upon the residentsandapos; level of cognitive impairment (i.e., mild cognitive
impairment vs. mild to moderate Alzheimerandapos;s disease and Alzheimerandapos;s disease-related-dementias). The findings
will validate the long-distance feature of Rendever by providing a rigorous, scientific test of it with 192
resident-adult child dyads, with the ultimate goal of improving quality of life (e.g., reducing loneliness,
improving mental health and thriving) and reducing caregiver guilt.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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