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Valerie Gruss’ work recognized with AAN Edge Runner award

Valerie Gruss

An innovative mobile app to help users navigate the Alzheimer’s experience, developed by UIC Nursing clinical associate professor Valerie Gruss, PhD, CNP-BC, FAAN, has received the American Academy of Nursing’s elite Edge Runner distinction.

The award recognizes programs developed by nurse innovators that usher in remarkable improvements to major healthcare challenges. Gruss’ Dementia Guide Expert is one of only two programs to be named an Edge Runner this year.

“The Academy is proud to designate these unique, nurse-designed programs as Edge Runners,” said American Academy of Nursing President Karen Cox, PhD, RN, FAAN. “Dr. Gruss’s Dementia Guide Expert app is an easy-to-use innovation that is drastically increasing access to care, which is especially important for diseases as personal as dementia.”

The free app, which is a centralized resource with evidence-based information for dementia patients and their caregivers, launched in December 2017 and has been downloaded more than 34,800 times in 12 different countries. Last year, it was translated into Spanish.

An estimated 5.7 million Americans aged 65 and older were living with Alzheimer’s disease as of 2017, according to the CDC, and as the U.S. population grays, that number is expected to almost triple in the next 30 years.

“This is a disease that can be devastating and overwhelming to caregivers and loved ones,” Gruss says. “Our goal is to educate people on Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, because most clinicians and the general population don’t have a full and accurate understanding of what it is or how to manage the symptoms of dementia. We’re trying to give people the tools to understand what’s going on and help them better manage this disease.”

The app is one of a slate of nine programs, all under the umbrella of ENGAGE-IL, that Gruss and a team of interprofessional experts are creating to build age-friendly health systems and dementia-friendly communities.

AAN’s Edge Runner initiative recognizes nurse-designed models of care and interventions that impact cost, improve healthcare quality and enhance consumer satisfaction. Gruss will receive the award at the American Academy of Nursing’s policy conference on Oct. 24.