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University of Miami Center on Aging Deploys Cisco Unified IP Phones to Assist Caregivers

Video Phones Convert Homes into Workspaces for Alzheimer's Patient Care

SAN JOSE, Calif. - January 8, 2008 - The University of Miami's Center on Aging today announced a pilot program that will help enable Alzheimer's patients' caregivers to reduce their stress, isolation, and likelihood of depression through video access to resources such as online support groups and care tips. The program, "A Computer Integrated System for Telephones", uses the Cisco® Unified IP Phone 7985G to help caregivers gain access to educational seminars and individual counseling sessions. With its video capabilities, caregivers use the phones to convert the home into a workspace for finding resources and obtaining quick solutions at the point of care.

The Center on Aging selected Cisco Unified IP Phone 7985G because of the large, easy-to-read display area, buttons that caregivers can use to select different options, and the ease of displaying text based on caregivers' menu selections. Through the program, caregivers' homes are equipped with the Cisco Unified IP Phone 7985G, a broadband connection, and a Cisco 871 Integrated Services Router that connects them to the Center on Aging network and is capable of providing the quality of service (QoS) needed to send high-quality video over the Internet. Caregivers can also make and receive calls exactly as they would with any other phone.

"We're working hard to develop innovative programs to help family members care for their relatives with Alzheimer's disease," says Sara Czaja, Ph.D., co-director of the Center on Aging. "The trend now is to keep patients in their homes instead of sending them to long-term care facilities. The primary caregiver is typically a family member, who becomes an extension of the medical system, using the home as the workspace. The Cisco video phones are a very valuable resource because even though family caregivers experience rewards while providing care, they also experience negative consequences, like stress, depression, and loneliness. These phones offer access to formal and informal support without caregivers having to leave their homes."

The pilot study focuses on support for minority caregivers and currently includes three groups; African-American, Hispanic, and Haitian. Menus, resources, and counseling sessions are either in English, Spanish or Creole, depending upon need. In the future, this could be implemented in communities throughout the United States to help family members act as extensions of the medical system.

"We're proud to see how the Center on Aging is using video with the Cisco Unified IP Phone 7985G," said Brian Dal Bello, director of marketing for Cisco's IP communications business unit. "With research expertise and outreach experience, the program is going to benefit a group of people that needs assistance and is often overlooked."

The worldwide population is aging, which creates new challenges for the healthcare community. The University of Miami's Center on Aging uses research, education, and community outreach to find ways to prevent disability, increase independence, and help older people lead active and rewarding lives. Faculty conduct research on diseases such as Alzheimer's and also offer programs for the elderly and their caregivers.

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