Your Health: New app helps open resources for caregivers

Your Health: New app helps open resources for caregivers
Published: Jun. 27, 2022 at 5:55 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Roughly one in five people in the United States is a caregiver to a family member or friend and one in four is caring for someone with dementia.

With a growing aging population, the demand for caregiving is increasing. However, the tools to provide guidance and support are not.

“She’ll be up all night, then I’m up all night and that usually doesn’t go well,” Gail Morgan said.

“My dad at the very end could not walk, couldn’t talk, couldn’t lift a glass of water to his mouth,” said Naveena Jaspal.

Caregiving is difficult.

“Caregivers are experiencing a lot of unmet needs,” said Dr. Nicole Werner. “These people are giving themselves completely to the person they care for and not getting a lot of support for themselves.”

But a new web-based app -- called CareVirtue -- is looking to ease that burden.

“What we’re trying to do with apps like CareVirtue is really build that caregiving team or caregiving network through the app, so that they can have support for asking for help,” Werner said.

The app allows family members and others involved in the caregiving to communicate and share important care information. They can also track symptoms and behaviors over time. For caregivers caring for someone with dementia, that can be crucial.

“They had documentation. They felt more comfortable in sort of bringing their concerns to other parties and they felt more validated,” said Anna Lidnen.

A tool like this could have given Christine Nash more support when she was caring for her mother with Alzheimer’s.

“The biggest obstacle for me was siblings not believing she had Alzheimer’s,” Nash recalled. “It made it a struggle when I reached out to them and asked for help.”

But now access to that support can be at the fingertips of many caregivers. The researchers are currently testing the web-based app CareVirtue with a couple hundred caregivers. They are also developing another app with Indiana University to help caregivers with managing medications.

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