Identifying opportunities for supporting caregivers of persons with dementia through information and communication technology
McHugh JE., Wherton JP., Prendergast DK., Lawlor BA.
With the demographic shift towards an older population, the contribution made by informal caregivers of persons with dementia is becoming increasingly important. The ongoing demands of the caring role can often impact mental health and physical well-being. Information and communication technology (ICT) may offer new ways of reducing caregiver burden through information provision and social contact. Interviews were conducted with 14 spouse caregivers of persons with dementia. Grounded theory analysis of interview transcripts revealed specific areas where ICT could help. These are summarised under three main themes: 'Support needed' (education and informal), 'social isolation' (leaving the house and sustaining networks) and the 'relationship' between patient and caregiver (disappearance and interaction). The findings demonstrate the importance of consulting caregivers to ensure that technology design is grounded in an understanding of the problems being addressed.