Caring for the caregivers
Today, more than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. There are 15 million family members caring for these patients at home, and the stress on caregivers is a profound but often-overlooked health problem.
This project develops, integrates, and tests advanced video and networking technologies to support family caregivers as they manage the behavioral symptoms of family members with dementia.
Each family in the study will have an in-home monitoring system consisting of a laptop computer with a camera and remote control that can be easily moved to any room in the house. When a caregiver experiences a behavior that he or she would like help addressing, the caregiver presses “record” on the remote. The system captures the episode — including the 5 minutes before — and the video is automatically uploaded to a secure online server. Every week, Williams and her team of dementia care professionals assess the recorded incidents to provide individualized suggestions to the caregiver.
“To care for a patient with dementia, it’s about caring for the person caring for the patient,” says Dr. Kristine Williams, associate professor at the University of Kansas School of Nursing. “We are giving really individualized professional feedback to those caregivers to empower them to manage their loved one’s care.”
The project builds upon a recent University of Kansas Medical Center (KUMC) clinical pilot study that tested the application of video monitoring in the home to support family caregivers of persons with Alzheimer’s disease who exhibited disruptive behaviors. The proposed project focuses on expanding the in-home technological tools available to strengthen the linkage between patients and caregivers with their healthcare team via multi-camera full-motion/high definition video monitoring. Google’s deployment this year of a 1 Gpbs fiber network throughout Kansas City provides the ideal environment for measuring the impact that ultra-high speed networking will have on health care.
Dr. Russ Waitman
Dr. Kristine Williams
Dr. James Sterbenz