Caregivers: Taking Care of Them


INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – When someone with dementia is in need of extra help and support, a caregiver steps in. According to the CDC, 80 percent of the time, a loved one provides that care in their own home. Doctors say taking on that role is hard work, stressful and can even lead to their own health issues. Now, a new app is giving those caregivers the tools they need and a reminder to take care of themselves, too.

Dennis and Sheila Huntington have been married for 53 years.

“She always tells me how she likes having me around. Right, dear?,” Dennis asks his wife.

Dennis spent decades as a minister. When it was time to retire, he felt called to do something else.

“Found out they need caregivers in homes for the elderly, and thought, ‘Maybe that’s what I could do and enjoy’,” he says.

He spent about 10 years doing that, then, Sheila was diagnosed with dementia, and now, he’s a caregiver in his own home.

“The caregiver is what we call the invisible patient,” says research scientist at Regenstrief Institute, Richard Holden, PhD.

(Read Full Interview)

Professor Holden and a team of many others have developed an app to help caregivers just like Dennis – it’s called Brain CareNotes. Caregivers fill out a clinical evaluation, then, care notes are provided based on that assessment, then, a care coach works directly with the caregiver.

Professor Holden explains, “We assess the caregiver just like we do the care recipient. We want to know their stress levels. We want them to track it over time. And the coach spends a lot of their time managing the care of the caregiver.”

One priority is making sure the caregiver takes a break to focus on something they enjoy.

Dennis says, “You need, as a caregiver, to be able to relax somewhat or it can overcome you.”

Dennis tries to spend about an hour a day woodworking. He also finds it helpful to talk to other caregivers. And even on the tough days, he knows the most important thing is that he loves his wife.

Professor Holden says the Brain CareNotes app is currently being used by study participants. He and his team are working to develop more features. They don’t know yet when it will be available to the general public or what it will cost. They hope to get health insurance companies on board to cover that cost.

Contributors to this news report include: Lindsay Dailey, Producer; Kyle Fisher, Videographer; Matt Goldschmidt, Editor.

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REPORT:        MB #5359

BACKGROUND: Caregiving for someone with dementia is an immensely challenging journey that often comes with many different emotions. The emotional turmoil experienced by caregivers can be profound and multifaceted, ranging from feelings of love and compassion to frustration, guilt, grief, and even resentment. The demands of caregiving can place a significant financial and practical burden on caregivers. Research indicates that caregivers of dementia patients experience higher levels of stress and anxiety compared to non-caregivers. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, about 60% to 70% of caregivers experience significant stress related to their caregiving duties. Caregivers of dementia patients are also at increased risk of depression. Studies suggest that between 30% to 40% of caregivers experience symptoms of depression, which can range from mild to severe. Caregiving responsibilities can often lead to social isolation for caregivers, exacerbating feelings of loneliness and emotional distress.


DIAGNOSING: Diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease involves a comprehensive assessment that considers medical history, physical examinations, neurological tests, and often imaging and laboratory tests. Since Alzheimer’s is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder, early diagnosis is crucial for effective management and treatment. The first step in diagnosing Alzheimer’s typically involves a detailed medical history and clinical evaluation. The doctor will inquire about the individual’s symptoms, including memory loss, cognitive decline, changes in behavior, and functional impairment. A thorough physical examination helps rule out other medical conditions that may mimic symptoms of Alzheimer’s or contribute to cognitive decline. A neurological assessment evaluates cognitive function and neuroimaging techniques can provide detailed images of the brain structure. Blood tests may be conducted to rule out other medical conditions that can affect cognitive function and neuropsychological tests assess various cognitive domains in detail.


NEW TECHNOLOGY: New forms of technology are helping patients everywhere including the caregivers of dementia patients. Automated prompts and reminders are becoming a regular resource to help dementia patients carry on more easily with everyday activities. New devices that detect motion can be used as a sensors and play a pre-recorded voice when they sense movement. They can be used for everyday tasks around the house such as playing a message when someone leaves the kitchen to turn off a stove or shut out a light.



Regenstrief Public Relations

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Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Richard Holden, PhD, Research Scientist

Read the entire Q&A