Researchers look to use technology to ease burden of caring for relatives with dementia
Researchers are confident they can put sensors in a home; train them to pick up on light, sound and temperature clues that precipitate difficult behavior in someone with dementia; and give a heads-up to caregivers that agitation is coming.
What they don’t know is whether giving suggestions to caregivers on how best to keep their relatives calm will relieve the stress of caring for a spouse or parent who is unable to communicate their distress.
“We might reduce agitation but still not reduce the burden of care giving,” said Martha Anderson, a professor at Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and one of the investigators on a three-university research project that is looking at developing an in-home product to ease the stress for families caring for a relative with dementia.
“We are looking at caregiver self-efficacy and caregiver depression. What you find, because you follow someone for 60 days and this disease is progressive, is that even though the caregiver said, ‘Yes, I like the equipment; yes, I liked the recommendations; or yes, I was happy to have this trial in the home,’ they are still care giving,” she said. “And they are still burdened by that. We are not at the point of rescuing anyone.”
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