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Internet-Based Resources and Support for Dementia Caregivers

Sherry Christiansen
By Sherry ChristiansenNovember 30, 2018

As the number of people diagnosed with dementia rises, so too does the need for family caregivers. Caregiving for a parent or senior loved one with dementia is perhaps one of the most challenging roles a person can embark on, which is why these dementia caregivers need as many resources and as much support as they can get.

Learn more about the burden that dementia caregivers face today and how they can use internet-based resources as much-needed support.

The Dementia Caregiving Burden

The ongoing support provided by dementia caregivers oftentimes results in what experts call a caregiving burden.

Over time, the mental strain and physical exertion oftentimes associated with caregiving may result in health problems.

Dementia caregivers are more prone to the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Dementia
  • Depression
  • Heart disease
  • Sleep problems
  • Stress and related diseases (cancer, diabetes and more)

Support Programs for Dementia Caregivers

As the number of dementia caregivers continues to rise, so too does the search for a solid program to support the emotional and physical well-being of caregivers.

Psychoeducational programs have been found to be effective in giving caregivers the knowledge and tools they need to more effectively fulfill their role — caring for a loved one with dementia — while attending to their own needs.

These support programs provide education and information to dementia caregivers on how to cope with anxiety, depression and other mental health issues. These programs also help caregivers alleviate stress while providing a sense of dignity and independence to the person with dementia.

Other types of interventions aimed at supporting dementia caregivers include:

  • Educational groups
  • Group therapy
  • Individual therapy
  • Peer-led support groups

There are unfortunately several factors that interfere with the access to support for dementia caregivers, including:

  • Geographic barriers
  • Lack of transportation
  • Lack of insurance or money
  • Lack of respite care
  • Time constraints

So, what’s the solution?

Internet-based resources can significantly increase the accessibility of support services for dementia caregivers. With internet-based resources such as interactive dementia webinars, online caregiver support programs and social networks today, the internet is an invaluable resource to dementia caregivers.

But are internet-based resources for dementia caregivers as effective as face-to-face interactions?

Study Shows Dementia Caregivers Benefit From Internet-Based Resources

A recent study published by the Journal of Medical Internet Research discovered that dementia caregivers did, in fact, benefit from engaging in internet-based resources and online support systems.

The study set out to discover the key components of internet-based resources for dementia caregivers and for those with dementia. The researchers conducted an online search of databases and measured the following parameters:

  • Duration of support programs
  • Length of support program involvement
  • Peer interaction with health care professionals
  • Psychological support
  • Support offered for making decisions
  • The effectiveness of support programs
  • Types of support programs (chat, group, individual, etc.)

The study found that internet-based resources may be beneficial to overall caregiver wellbeing. More specifically, the researchers discovered there was a positive impact on factors commonly associated with dementia caregiving, such as anxiety, depression and feelings of burden.

The components of internet-based programs and resources found to be the most helpful were interactions with professionals and peer support. The dementia caregivers who participated in the study voiced that they valued the ease of access, emotional support received and the personalized advice given, which led to a reduction in the caregiving burden.

Overall, the results showed a positive outcome for the use of internet-based resources and support for caregivers. In the future, researchers hope to conduct higher quality studies to pinpoint the effectiveness of internet-based programs aimed at supporting dementia caregivers.

Are you a dementia caregiver? Which internet-based resources have been most helpful to you on your caregiving journey? We’d like to hear your stories in the comments below.

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Sherry Christiansen

Sherry Christiansen

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