People living with Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders can display agitation and aggression that can negatively impact both themselves and their caregivers, who are typically family members.
To address this issue, the National Institute on Aging awarded nearly $4 million to Laura N. Gitlin, distinguished professor and dean of Drexel’s College of Nursing and Health Professions, and her University of California colleague Helen Kales to study the impact of an easy-to-use, online platform called the WeCareAdvisor. According to Gitlin, the trial will be enrolling caregivers across the country to achieve geographic, race and ethnic diversity in the caregiver sample.
One of the tools that the WeCareAdvisor platform utilizes is a systematic approach, called “DICE” for describing, investigating, creating & evaluating strategies to better manage behavior in dementia patients.
The WeCareAdvisor platform provides caregivers with education about dementia, daily tips for managing stress and a systematic approach for describing, investigating, creating and evaluating strategies (known as the DICE approach). It also offers caregivers access to knowledge about behavioral symptoms when they need it and as behaviors occur.
“Family caregivers are rarely informed about behavioral and psychological symptoms which are common clinical symptoms in dementia, nor do they have opportunities to learn about specific proven nonpharmacological strategies that can prevent, reduce and/or manage these symptoms,” says Gitlin.
Preliminary evidence from pilot research suggests that use of the WeCareAdvisor reduces caregiver distress, enhances their confidence and may contribute to fewer behavioral symptoms.