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New mobile app would treat dementia in Chinese and Korean Americans


Dr. Junhyoung “Paul” Kim, an associate professor of health behavior in the Texas A&M School of Public Health, was awarded a two-year grant by a Korean foundation to design mobile technology to treat dementia in older Chinese Americans and Korean Americans.  

Asian Americans are the fastest growing racial and ethnic minority group. However, they receive only one percent of clinical research funding for dementia. This project works towards the efforts made by National Institute on Aging to increase participation by Asian Americans in dementia care.   

Kim suggested the reason behind minimum involvement of Asian Americans in dementia care being the fact that majority of the adults of the community were born outside the U.S. and have limited proficiency in English. It was also found that these individuals have similar or higher rates of cognitive impairment in comparison to nonimmigrant older adults.  

The research team plans on obtaining preliminary data to support a larger, randomized controlled trial to test the efficacy of the app. This will focus on cognitive function and quality of life for the targeted users.  

The app would be produced by Silvia Health, a company in Seoul, Korea. The company specializes in dementia prevention technology for older adults with limited English proficiency.  

Prior research by the team showed that Silvia health app improved the memory, psychological health and quality of life of the older adults who used it. The new research aims to gather data related to a new app that will cover home-based exercise, mindfulness and relaxation, cognitive activities and voice-based, AI-led cognitive assessments. Further, the new app will also be provided in multiple languages and its content will be appropriate for a wider range of users.  

“Our goal is to reduce cultural barriers that prevent the diagnosis and treatment of cognitive decline and dementia in older Asian American adults,” Kim said. “This research is a step in that direction.”