Indiana University develops Facebook app for Alzheimer’s caregivers
Friendsourcing through the Facebook app developed by researchers at Indiana University helping unpaid Alzheimer’s caregivers in finding crucial support.
Taking care of someone with Alzheimer’s disease can be intricate and isolating. An emotional support system is essential for anyone looking after a loved one with the disease, where they might have certain questions and confusion that need to be addressed.
To help curb this, researchers based in Indiana University-Purdue University (IUPUI), Indianapolis have been able to develop the Facebook app, functioned to ensure that unpaid caregivers can connect together in a support group.
The members involved in the group can direct their questions to their friends on Facebook, be it an emotional or informational query that is to be answered.
And when an answer is posted for the question, then the friend is enlisted as one of the members of the developing support network of caregivers.
Online supportive communities have come to be very effective and useful. The study, referred to as Friendsourcing through Facebook Social Media to support Alzheimer’s Caregivers, offers a prominent support group to relieve the stress of caregiver’s. They can find support through the online friend support systems.
The project was funded by Regenstrief Institute at IUPUI worth $29,000, aiming to reduce the strain and emotional hardship of unpaid caregivers of Alzheimer patients. Caregivers are shown to suffer from depression, insomnia, anxiety, and various cardiovascular diseases.
As a part of an investigation, the useful app was developed as a peer support group intervention to deal with the emotional and informational queries and issues by the support group was forwarded to the caregiver’s Facebook friends as questions. When they answered, they were included in the support network.
And, the researchers were able to successfully establish that this actually helped the caregivers as they experienced the positive support provided.
Family and friends of the Alzheimer’s caregivers, familiar with social media can help to offer personal support and guide them to create a proper support system.
The study was successful to provide evidence that social good can be harvested from social media with the help of friendsourcing for telehealth innovations, as said by David Wilkerson, a member of the research team of the Facebook app and also an assistant professor in IU School of Social Work.
The developed Facebook App Friendsourcing is said to be the first to take advantage of the social media community, one of the many variants of crowdsourcing and utilizing it in a positive manner to offer online support to Alzheimer’s caregivers, as reported by the IUPUI.
In February, another digital health product aimed at offering support to caregivers was introduced by the AARP Services and United Healthcare. It ran a Caregiving for Dementia Innovation Challenge. Yet another app primarily designed to help train student caregivers, along with a virtual reality system to help caregivers a detailed experience of what patients with dementia go through.
The study was conducted with unpaid caregivers, who then interacted and reacted to give feedback about questions posted by researchers. And they studied the emotional response, with further network sourcing with their Facebook friends.
At the end of the six-week intervention, the participants reflected on the development, and they reported decreased levels of stress and burden accumulated following the support network.
Social media is converging to a point where it can be utilized for better healthcare methods. Concepts like friendsourcing are an innovative way to provide support to caregivers and there has been an increased number of digital support groups as they are proving to be very beneficial in curbing the stress and burden levels of caregivers.
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