The Alzheimer’s Association reports that over 16 million family members and friends provide 18.5 billion hours of unpaid care to people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. 86 percent of these unpaid caregivers have provided care for at least the past year whereas half have been providing care for four or more years.
Given the responsibility of caring for a loved one Alzheimer’s and other dementias, these caregivers – encounter physical and emotional stress which can create or aggravate their own health. Over 1 in 3 of these caregivers indicated that their own health has declined due to their care responsibilities. Almost 60 percent of the caregivers rate the emotional stress of caregiving as high or very high and 40 percent of these family caregivers suffer from depression.
Home health agencies can coach the family caregiver in how to take care of his/her loved one (the care recipient) as well as one’s self. With a communication platform such as Synzi, home health agencies can provide support to improve the caregiver’s confidence, skillset, and quality of life. By using HIPAA-compliant messaging and video to engage the patient and the caregiver, home health agencies can:
- Enlighten caregivers on their role: Help the caregiver define his/her caregiving personality and specific caregiving role vis-à-vis other family members and friends
- Empower caregivers with communication tips: Coach the caregiver on how to better communicate with the loved one as well as other family members, and home health clinicians, and other healthcare providers
- Enhance caregivers’ schedule: Share time management skills which can help establish the caregiver’s own self-care schedule which may include time away from direct caregiving and delegated responsibilities
- Emotionally support caregivers: Teach the caregivers techniques on how to better cope with the day-to-day challenges in caregiving and how to evolve these coping techniques as the patient’s condition changes
Additional participants – such as a speech language pathologist – can also be included in the virtual visits to help patients with their challenges in recalling lost words or concepts. A Northwestern University study indicated that patients suffering from aphasia — a condition that robs patients of the ability to understand or express speech — can successfully use a virtual care platform to interact with a specialist from the safety of their home. The family caregiver can also participate in the virtual visits and learn how to continue using the suggested techniques with a loved one.
With the Synzi platform, caregivers can access the home health care team on-demand and feel less isolated and anxious regarding their physical exhaustion, fears and frustrations in providing their loved ones with the optimal care. Home health agencies can use HIPAA-compliant messaging and video to coach the caregiver on a regular basis in addition to continuing to deliver compassionate care to the patient.