Novel Smartphone Application Assists Older Adults with Mild Cognitive Impairment and Dementia with Completion of Everyday Tasks and Reduces Care-Partner Burden

Moira Mckniff, Temple University, Philadelphia, United States
Katherine Hackett, Temple University, Philadelphia, United States
Sarah Lehman, Temple University, Philadelphia, United States
Emma Pinsky, Temple University, Philadelphia, United States
Molly Tassoni, Temple University, Philadelphia, United States
Stephanie Simone, Temple University, Philadelphia, United States
Sophia Holmqvist, Temple University, Philadelphia, United States
Mijail Serruya, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Philadelphia, United States
Chiu Tan, Temple University, Philadelphia, United States
Tania Giovannetti, Temple University, Philadelphia, United States


To evaluate the effectiveness and usability of a personalized, smartphone reminder application (SmartPrompt [SP]) for improving everyday function in people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or mild dementia.

Participants and Methods:

Ten participants (M age=76.3 ± 5.42) with MCI or dementia and their care-partners identified two personalized tasks they wished to complete more independently. The SP app alerted participants to complete these two tasks each day at preferred times; incorporated personalized images, audio, and rewards; and included motivation and logging features. Participants and care-partners were first trained in using the SP on the participant’s phone. Task completion/performance was then facilitated and tracked at home for two weeks using the SP, and two weeks without (Control; order counterbalanced). Task completion was also logged using daily diaries throughout the study period. Effectiveness outcomes included care-partners’ daily diary for participant task completion (0 = not done to 3 = independent and accurate), care-partner burden (0 = none to 4 =severe), and participants’ task logging (control = paper diary vs. SP app; 0 = not complete, 1 = complete). Participant frustration also was collected with the daily diary (0 = not frustrated to 2 = very frustrated). The System Usability Scale (SUS; 0 = poor usability to 100 =excellent usability) and a structured interview were administered after study completion.


The most frequently targeted task was medications (58%); others included hydration, exercise, psychological wellness, and chores. Care-partners reported significantly higher task completion (Z = 2.5, p = .012) and lower burden (Z = 2.0, p = .043) during the SP vs. Control weeks. On average, participants completed more tasks during the SP weeks (M=26.5 ± 1.78) vs. the Control weeks (M=24.4 ± 5.32), although this difference was not statistically significant (p = .399). Participants reported that they completed more tasks on time during the SP weeks vs. Control weeks (p = .002). There was no significant difference in the participants’ average level of frustration while completing their target tasks during the SP weeks (M = 0.153, Mdn = .11; range = 0-.42) compared to the Control weeks (M = 0.108, Mdn = .11; range = 0-.28; z= .51, p= .611), though frustration was generally low during both conditions. Participants’ SUS was 86.5 (SD = 11.13) and they rated the following features of the SP app helpful: custom alarms (100%), alarm nudges and reminders (90%), the option to delay alarms (70%), photo logging task completion (70%), and motivational graphics and reward song (60%). Finally, when given the choice to keep the SP app at the end of the study, all participants (100%) requested to do so.


Although task completion rates did not significantly differ when comparing participant diary and SP records, various other outcomes showed participants completed significantly more tasks, and did so in a timelier manner with less assistance when using the SP app. Additionally, multiple indicators suggested the SP was viewed favorably by both participants and care-partners. Thus, the SP holds promise for improving everyday function in people with MCI/mild dementia and alleviating care-partner burden.

Category: Teleneuropsychology/ Technology

Keyword 1: dementia - Alzheimer's disease
Keyword 2: technology
Keyword 3: caregiver burden