Serving as a caregiver for a loved one with dementia comes with many challenges. The stress from this can lead to anxiety, social withdrawal, sleeplessness, and mental fatigue. A new study aimed to understand which issues are most commonly behind these struggles, with a goal of creating a digital platform for caregivers that may help.
Researchers at the Texas A&M University School of Public Health and the small business Olera.care, founded by A&M students, interviewed caregivers to better understand the most common challenges that need to be addressed. The findings, published in JMIR Aging, showed there were a variety of struggles with functional care, finances, and legal issues. The researchers say participants also felt an integrative digital platform with resources would help lighten their load, and that’s what the team aims to do with the results.
Qiping Fan, lead researcher and recent Texas A&M health behavior DrPH graduate, says, “We explored caregivers’ specific concerns, such as where to get help to pay for caregiving services, how to navigate the issue of guardianship and how to cope with everyday activities. Their input will be used in the design of a digital health platform that they would find useful and tailored to their specific needs.”
The 30 caregivers interviewed, and later surveyed, were asked which financial, legal, and functional challenges they experienced as they cared for their loved one. The most common responses were balancing other family obligations and work, managing financial burdens, finding reliable services, navigating legal and financial processes, and finding emotional health support.
Participants also reported that reliable information was hard to come by online and they could use a one stop online resource with information, the ability to share resources, and community support.
Logan DuBose from Olera.care says, “We now have a comprehensive view of this population’s current challenges and a clear vision of potential resources and interventions that may support caregivers.”
They’ll use this information to develop a digital platform for caregivers across the country, with $2.3 million in grant funding from the National Institute on Aging’s Small Business Innovative Research Program.
You can find out more about Olera.care here.