Can a Facebook app aid Alzheimer’s caregivers?

Memory loss could trigger unimaginable chaos in the life of an Alzheimer’s patient but taking care of dementia patients could be no less stressful either.

To help bring some order in the lives of such Alzheimer’s caregivers a team of US researchers is to test if a Facebook web app could be of help.

Studies have shown that caregivers have higher rates of depression, anxiety, insomnia and cardiovascular disease.

So a team of researchers at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis is looking for volunteers to participate in a pilot study to see if an innovative Facebook web app can help provide much-needed support to unpaid caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s.

Those selected will use a social microvolunteering web app that was specially designed for use in Facebook for this study, a university statement said.

Participants will meet in small Facebook groups to decide on caregiving questions that they would like answered through the use of the web app.

Members of the Facebook groups will include caregivers and a researcher. The researchers will post prompts and moderate the discussion.

As a starting point, volunteers will introduce themselves in a post to other members of the group and explain why they joined and what they hope to get out of it.

Members of the support group will be able to post questions, thoughts or requests for help, and other members of the group can respond.

For the first two weeks, the research team will post predetermined questions. In the last four weeks, the support group will decide on the questions themselves.

Questions could range from asking for advice on how to deal with a relative who won’t stop driving even though they have Alzheimer’s to asking about emotional support.

The questions developed by the group will be delivered through the social microvolunteering app to the larger Facebook community.

After six weeks, the participants will be asked to reflect on whether the support group helped them and how it could be improved.

People interested in participating in the six-week study are asked to go to alzgroup.iu.edu to learn more about the pilot study.

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