October 2nd and 3rd, 2003


SPRY Conference Demonstrates How Latest Research, Newest Technologies are Enhancing Caregiving for Older Americans

Administration on Aging, NIH Institutes, Veterans Affairs, Agency
for Healthcare Quality and Research and Private-Sector Groups Showcase Advances At Biannual National Gathering

Washington, DC, October 9, 2003 – At the SPRY Foundation’s October 2-3 conference “Computer-Based Technology and Caregiving for Older Adults,” speakers from 40 different government agencies, small and large corporations, and public and non-profit organizations met at the National Institutes of Health to demonstrate that advances in basic research and technological innovation are rapidly converging to transform the care of older adults in the United States so that they can remain independent longer in their own homes and communities.

From the opening, televised welcome of Elias Zerhouni, director of the National Institutes of Health, to the closing comments of Karyne Jones Conley, president and CEO of the National Caucus and Center on Black Aged, more than 300 health professionals, researchers, federal and local government officials, and caregiving experts were treated to what one observer called, “A particularly outstanding blend of information about caregiving, from basic research and development to the practical applications of technology that are improving life for many, many older Americans.”

Jonathan B. Perlin, Deputy Undersecretary for Health at the Department of Veterans Affairs, detailed how the VA is using electronic record keeping to achieve patient-centered, coordinated care which is seamless across environments. “Health care is a team sport at the VA.” he declared. “Through our ‘TeleHealth Care’ project, we are combining improved technology with a focus on cooperation up and down the continuum to eliminate the boundaries to excellent health care.”

“It is just like the doctor was there,” Perlin said, noting that the VA’s patients are “older, sicker and poorer” than the national average. “This project is proving that health care can be better, cheaper and friendlier. We can and must translate this ‘just-in-time’ care to civilian society,” he concluded.

In emphasizing the importance of focusing on the needs of the individual, Suzanne Mintz, president of the National Family Caregivers Association, admonished experts and conference attendees alike to “remember the heart,” while Pamela Whitten, assistant professor of telecommunication at Michigan State University, stressed that the “patient-caregiver encounter is paramount.”

Talking about the privacy and ethics of older caregiving, Mike Cantor, associate director for clinical affairs at the New England Geriatric Research, Education, and Clinical Center, noted that computer-based caregiving raises all sorts of issues, including ones of access, justice and cost. “Who decides who gets access to all this new information, and what about the ‘digital divide’ which limits the poor from getting the newest technologies,” he asked.

Speaking for the National Hispanic Council on Aging, Elizabeth Bertera urged, “Continue your research but don’t lose sight of us Hispanic Americans!” According to her, Hispanic-Americans are widely divergent in education and economics and will comprise 14 percent of the population by 2020. “But 50-percent of us have children 18 years old or younger, and they are computer-savvy—ideal for inter-generational telehealthcare,” she noted.

Ron Goetzel, who directs Cornell University’s Institute for Health and Productive Studies, pointed out that the economics of caregiving in a rapidly aging society (people 85 and over is the country’s fastest-growing cohort) will help to spur tailored communication to improve preventive health care. With less than five percent of the nation’s annual $1.4 trillion health expenditures going for prevention, he said, “There is a business case to be made for investing in better health of the aging and others.”

Gary Kreps, chief of the National Cancer Institute’s Health Communication and Informatics Research Branch, emphasized that computer technology is a “major strategy” to promote multi-disciplinary collaboration in remote health monitoring and health care coordination. “The challenge,” he said, “is to utilize computer technologies to cross the digital divide to promote good health; to provide relevant, persuasive information to help people change their behavior.”

Discussing the changing roles for caregivers, Kathleen Kelly, Family Caregiving Alliance, noted that although as much as 80 percent of long-term care is provided by families, few states know very little about the needs of older spousal caregivers, for example, and what they require in the way of help. “We need to identify them in order to help them,” she concluded.

Adam Darkins, the new director of the VA’s care coordination initiative, cautioned that in the quest for better health care, “We need to match the technology with existing needs. Our goal is an individualized, fully integrated national system of support which works for people.”

Eric Dishman, who manages Intel Corporation’s Proactive Health Research unit, talked about the “ties that blind” the current caregiving system and the “lack of visibility of who is doing the work.” He reported that for private sector companies like Intel, “aging is the locus of the focus” for involvement in health care.

Gail Hunt, executive director of the National Alliance for Caregiving, noted that some caregivers are reluctant to adopt technology because there is “relatively little evidence about the benefits from technology, let alone what it will cost and who is to pay.” “The three top needs for caregivers are information, training and support,” she observed, “and clearly technology can have a positive impact in each of these areas.”

Speaking for the AARP, the nation’s largest membership organization of older adults, John Rother, director of policy and strategy, said that to assure better health care, there need to national health care infrastructure standards, a funding mechanism to pay for the transition to the new system and greater patient involvement in the system. As did all the conference presenters, Rother declared that the needs of both patients and caregivers must be better understood and incorporated into the design and development of new systems.

Carolyn Clancy, director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, who is concerned with errors in health care, which are especially acute among the chronically ill, older adult, said that computer technology can produce better, more coordinated patient records. “This leads to greater accountability and more involvement of the patient and the family in both health care monitoring and decision making,” she said.

In closing the conference, Dr. Russell E. Morgan, Jr., president of SPRY, noted, “With the Baby Boom generation fast-approaching retirement, the next Great American Dream is to live healthy and independent lives well into old age in their own homes and communities. As we have learned from this conference, the convergence of technological innovation, cutting-edge research and human compassion is beginning to make this dream come true.”

A scientific overview of “Computer-Based Technology and Caregiving for Older Adults” is to be published jointly by the Gerontology Society of America and SPRY in the January 2004 issue of Public Policy and Aging. SPRY also will develop a consumer guide to the topic and, with the VA, will produce a training video based on the conference.

SPRY (Setting Priorities for Retirement Years) Foundation is an independent, non-profit 501(c)(3) research and education organization that helps people prepare for successful aging. SPRY emphasizes planning and prevention-oriented strategies in four key areas: health and wellness, mental health, financial security, and life engagement.


Christopher Klose

Maria Droumbanis

10 G Street, NE
Suite 600
Washington, DC 20002-4215


Michael J. Ackerman, Assistant Director for High Performance Computing and Communications, National Library of Medicine

Majd Alwan, University of Virginia

Tom Aversano, Associate Professor of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University

James Barlow, Chair in Technology and Innovation Management, Innovative Studies Centre, The Business School;
Imperial College, U.K.

Elizabeth Bertera, National Hispanic Council on Aging

Richard Browdie, President and CEO, Benjamin Rose Institute

Mike Cantor, Associate Director for Clinical Affairs, New England Geriatric Research, Education, and Clinical Center (GRECC)

Lona Choi, SPRY Foundation

Carolyn M. Clancy, Director, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

Stephanie Dailey, Education Research Specialist, National Institute on Aging

Adam Darkins, Chief Consultant Telemedicine, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Eric Dishman, Manager, Proactive Health Research, Intel Corporation

Steve Downs, Senior Program Officer, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Robert Glueckauf, Professor and Director, Department of Medical Humanities and Social Sciences, Florida State University

Mitch Golant, Vice President of Research and Development,
The Wellness Community

Ron Goetzel, Director, Institute for Health and Productivity Studies, Cornell University

Christine Grant, Vice Chair and Treasurer, SPRY Foundation Board of Trustees

Brooke S. Harrow, Assistant Professor, University of Massachusetts Boston

Richard J. Hodes, Director, National Institute on Aging

Gail Hunt, Executive Director, National Alliance for Caregiving

Blair Irvine, Research Scientist, Oregon Center for Applied
Science, Inc.

Elizabeth Isele, Founder and President,

Karyne Jones Conley, President and CEO, National Caucus and Center on Black Aged, Inc.

Donald W. King, Deputy Director for Research and Education,
National Library of Medicine

Rita Kobb, Lead Care Coordinator, Community Services, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA)

Gary Kreps, Chief, Health Communication and Informatics Research Branch, National Cancer Institute

Harry M. Linowes, Chair, SPRY Board of Trustees

Diane Mahoney, Director, Gerontechnology, Hebrew Rehabilitation Center for Aged Research and Training Institute, Boston, Massachusetts

Judith Matthews, Assistant Professor, University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing and Carnegie Melon University

Suzanne Mintz, President, National Family Caregivers Association

Russell E. Morgan, President, SPRY Foundation

Roger W. Morrell, Director of Research, Gerotech Corporation

Latona Murdoch, Senior Research Assistant, Scripps Gerontology Center, Miami University of Ohio

Jonathan B. Perlin, Deputy Undersecretary for Health, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Michael Rosen, Director, Assistive Technology Research Center, National Rehabilitation Hospital, Washington, DC

John Rother, Director of Policy and Strategy, AARP

Chris Saeger, AARP

Lawrence Schiamberg, Michigan State University

Cheryl Schramm, Director, Area Agency on Aging, Atlanta Regional

Richard Schultz, Director, University Center for Social and Urban Research, University of Pittsburgh

Arlen Specter, Senator from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (video)

Sidney Stahl, Chief of Behavioral Medicine, National Institute on Aging

Johnny D. Walker, CEO & Executive Director, Patient Safety Institute

Terrie Fox Wetle, President Elect,The Gerontological Society of America

Pamela Whitten, Assistant Professor, Department of Telecommunication Michigan State University

Janet Witt, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare

John Wren, Director, Center of Planning and Policy Development, U.S. Administration on Aging

Elias Zerhouni, Director, National Institutes of Health (video)


Beth Mazur will showcase the latest resources related to older adults, caregiving, and technology made available by AARP. Learn about recent research, consumer information, and other AARP activities related to older adults, computers, and technology. For more information contact:

Elder Issues
John Boden will demonstrate Life Ledger,™ an Internet-based caregiver support system. For more information visit:

Family Caregiver Alliance
Kathleen Kelly will showcase Link2Care, an Internet-based caregiver support program that was developed for caregivers of adults with dementia, provides information, education and support on demand. L2C is utilized throughout California and this exhibit will feature key functions of the service. For more information contact:

Generations on Line
Tobey Dichter will demonstrate how this non-profit national program simplifies the Internet for seniors with step-by-step on screen directions. It is use now in more than 750 senior centers, nursing homes, retirement center, HUD housing and public libraries in 46 states. For more information contact:

Holly Russo will show how through the use of telemonitoring (vital signs monitoring and health status inquiry) it will enable people to stay in their homes by providing enhancements to care oversight, support and interventions. For more information contact:

Interactive Medical Developments
Jeffrey Kidder will demonstrate the MD.2. a personal, medication-dispensing system that organizes, reminds, dispenses and tracks medications. It is fully web-enabled for professionals. For more information

Living Independently Inc.
George Boyajian will showcase “ADL monitoring, early detection, and early warning via the Internet.” The LI system is an unobstrusive, electronic daily living reporting system (e-ADLRS), which gathers data on the routine activities of elders (e.g., getting out of bed, going to the bathroom, navigating the bathroom safely, preparing meals, taking medications) without altering the elders' normal behavior. For more information

Merck Institute of Aging & Health
Erin Vigne will demonstrate “Health Compass: Navigating Research on Health and Aging,” a new web site sponsored by the Merck Institute of Aging & Health and the American Federation for Aging research. The site designed to help older adults and their caregivers locate and better understand new research on aging and health. For more information visit:

Penn State University Gerontology Center
Susan Hoover will demonstrate CaregiverPA, one of the first state-specific web sites dedicated to providing consumer-oriented caregiving information. Developed by the PSU Gerontology Center in conjunction with the SPRY Foundation and the Pennsylvania Department of Aging, CaregiverPA provides county specific information for older adults and their caregivers in all 67 Pennsylvania counties. For more information contact:

Peoplechart Corporation
Megan Mok will demonstrate a patient-enabled system for managing health information, which was developed by Peoplechart, an independent service provider offering an integrated solution for managing medical records and personal health information. For more information visit:

SUNY Stony Brook and Viterion Telehealthcare
Craig Lehmann of the SUNY Stony Brook School of Health Technology and Management and Pramod K. Gaur of Viterion Telehealth will demonstrate how they are managing chronic conditions of the elderly via Viterion Telehealthcare technology. The exhibit will provide an overview of the Viterion telehealth and a short powerpoint presentation on the outcomes of using the Viterion system to manage congestive heart failure patients in their homes. For more information contact:

SPRY Foundation
The SPRY Foundation will exhibit a number of research findings, including the results from the 2001 conference on evaluating health information on the web for older adults, a hands-on guide for older adults and caregivers, and multi-media program to help caregivers (and seniors) find and use web-based resources on health, insurance, benefits, and senior services. Caresource Communications, a primary collaborator will be participating as well. For more information contact:

St. Clair Senior Services and Dream Team Technologies
Cherri Harris will demonstrate SENIOR WEB PAL: Keeping Senior Living Communities Connected. The demonstration will show how their senior-friendly application is designed to help residents connect and navigate easily, plus connect to facility and amenities through “Seniorweb pal.” For more information contact:

National Council on the Aging (NCOA)
Frank Slobig and Dan Evans will demonstrate Benefits Checkup: High Tech Helps Seniors Find Benefits, which NCOA developed as an Internet-based national benefits screening service for older adults. NCOA will present practical lessons learned, as well as future vision, in using high technology to serve the aging community. For more information contact:

University of Pittsburgh
Richard Simpson will demonstrate Intelligent Mobility AIDS. Investigators at the University of Pittsburgh and AT Sciences are collaborating on several development projects in which technology originally developed for mobile robots is applied to rehabilitation technology for individuals with mobility impairments (e.g., power wheelchairs, manual wheelchairs, walkers). The result is advanced, intelligent, mobility aids that provide independent mobility to individuals whose physical and/or perceptual impairments prevent them from using traditional mobility aids safely. For more information contact:

University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
Web-based Education and Communication Center for Families of Nursing Home Residents and Interactive-video Curriculum for Nursing Home Staff Education Families of nursing home residents often feel disconnected and poorly informed when facing the challenges of institutional placement. Jules Rosen will demonstrate this NIS-funded project (R44 AG19088), which provides a core of basic information for families regarding clinical, administrative and legal issues. This web-based system is designed to provide interactive communication between the family and the facility for care coordination as well.
For more information contact:

Government Co-Sponsors:
Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)
Administration on Aging (AoA)
National Institutes of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Office of Research on Women's Health (ORWH)
National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
National Library of Medicine (NLM)
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)
Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Health Resources Services and Administration (HRSA)
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)
Department of Veteran Affairs (DVA)
Department of Education (ED)
National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR)
FirstGov for Seniors

Private Co-Sponsors:
Merck Institute of Aging and Health (MIAH)
Pfizer Inc
Intel Corporation
Aventis Pasteur
American Association of Retired Persons (AARP)
Verizon Communications
National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (NCPSSM)

Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) //
World Health Organization (WHO)
The Gerontological Society of America (GSA)
American Society on Aging (ASA)
American Geriatrics Society (AGS) //
Foundation For Health In Aging
American College of Physicians Foundation (ACPF)
Alzheimer's Association
National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (N4A)
National Council on the Aging (NCOA)
National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC)
National Caucus and Center on Black Aged (NCCBA)
National Family Caregivers Association (FCA)
National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCA)
Alliance for Aging Research (AAR)

American Academy of Nursing (AAN)
American Medical Association (AMA)
American Public Health Association (APHA)
Association of Gerontology In Higher
Education (AGHE)
Benjamin Rose Institute (BRI)
Grantmakers In Aging (GIA)
Center for the Advancement of Health (CFAH)
Markle Foundation
American Telemedicine Association (ATA)
University of Georgia Gerontology Center
University of Pittsburgh: Center for Health Aging
Baylor College of Medicine: Huffington Center on Aging


©2003 SPRY Foundation All Rights Reserved