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Technological Advances Could Help Caregivers Improve Quality of Life for Dementia Patients

Kristine Williams

Kristine Williams, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, and Sally Mathis Hartwig Professor in Gerontological Nursing, was recently awarded a research grant that will help her test interventions to improve care for older adults by using technology to support family caregivers of persons with dementia.

The four-year, $1.9 million R01 grant from the National Institution of Nursing Research-National Institute of Health (NINR/NIH) will specifically help fund her project titled “Supporting Family Caregivers with Technology for Dementia Home Care (FamTechCare).”

Dr. Williams and her team will be testing a new telehealth intervention that uses in-home monitoring to link family caregivers to experts for guidance in managing challenging care situations to support continued care for the person with dementia at home while reducing caregiver stress and negative outcomes.

“We are testing behavior imaging technology on touchscreen devices via an app that produces video recordings. This allows family members to record care situations for which they would like feedback. Once the videos are uploaded to a secure site, our interdisciplinary team will review them and provide feedback to the families providing care for persons with dementia at home,” explained Williams.

The grant, which became effective March 4, will help pay for technology and equipment needs as well as the staff who are needed to review video recordings submitted by families and provide guidance on how to improve the care they provide at home. 

Over the course of the four-year study, the team plans to enroll 88 families who are caring for a loved one with dementia at home. They will be recruiting participants from the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, and a second site will conduct the study at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City.

“The ultimate goal of my research is to improve the quality of care for aging persons. Using technology to support families who are providing dementia care at home is a low cost approach to provide tailored, nonpharmacological interventions that can improve care and quality of life for these families,” added Dr. Williams.

Data collected from the first group of participating families is expected to be available in approximately one year.

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Posted On: 
Mar 31st, 2014