Alzheimer's Disease Prevention Health Coaching Academic Article uri icon

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  • Background

    Widespread lifestyle risk reduction at the community level is considered effective in decreasing Alzheimer's disease (AD). To address the limited use of risk deduction in AD, this study aimed to explore the feasibility of community-level implementation. Diverse older adults (60+) living in Richmond, VA, with incomes below $12,000/year and managing diabetic/cardiovascular symptoms were offered weekly lifestyle telephone-health coaching for 12-weeks in 2019-2020 (Phase 1). The health coaching sessions were framed to provide AD lifestyle risk reduction education, goal setting, and support: motivations and self-efficacy. The study sample (n=40, mean age 68 years (range: 60-76 years)) was 90% African American/Black (n=36), 100% Non-Hispanic, and 45% males (n=18). Twenty-five participants (60%) reported experiencing some/often memory problems in the last 12-months. Thirty-nine (95%) of subjects successfully participated in coaching sessions; on average, 11 (91.9%) sessions per subject were completed. Participants provided positive anecdotal feedback and stated the need for continued health coaching. Consequently, n=30 (75%) of the original sample consented to continued health coaching during the 2020-2021 COVID-19 pandemic (Phase 2). All study subjects were examined at baseline (Time 1), 3-month (Time 2), covid-baseline (Time 3), and 3-months postcovid-baseline (Time 4). Repeated Measures ANOVAs were done to examine Time and Time*Memory Status effects.


    There was a total risk reduction at Phase 1 (F=9.26; p=.004; effect size=.19). At Phase 2, alcohol use decreased (p=.05), quadratic time effects were observed in physical activity (p=.01-.02), and cubic time effects were observed in depression (p=.02). Overall, total risk reduction in Phase 2 was observed at F=5.05; p=.03 effect size=.16. Pre/post-test analyses indicated improvement in Memory Problem Time Interaction (p=.007), AD knowledge (p=.01-.03), and Tired Days (p=.04) across Phase 1. There was also improvement in Social Isolation Time Interaction (p=.03); Tobacco Addiction (p=.001); Poor Mental Health Days (p=.05), and Worried Days Time Interaction (p=.02-.01) across Phase 2. Between subject Memory Status effects, indicating poorer baseline levels for individuals reporting memory problems had greater improvement seen in memory complaints (p=.001), poor mental health days (.02), and tired days (.003-.01).


    This preliminary work creates the impetus for future large-scale lifestyle AD risk reduction investigations to mitigate and improve modifiable AD risk among low-income, diverse older adults, including individuals reporting memory problems. Our findings surrounding participant engagement and positive trends in AD risk reduction support the hypothesis that telephone-based health coaching is a practical and feasible AD risk reduction intervention.

publication date

  • January 2022