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BellaOnline's Alzheimers Editor
 

Cornell Creates Website for Caregivers

Alzheimer’s caregivers face an enormous burden, many not fully aware of how depleting the disease is emotionally and physically. They are virtually in a state of chronic stress which predisposes this caregiver to illness with a higher risk of mortality. A stressed caregiver transmits stress to the patient who then absorbs it and can respond with intense emotional pain and agitation.
I am happy to announce that based on this mounting public health challenge experts at Weill Cornell Medical College have spent four years creating ThisCaringHome.org, an interactive, multimedia Web site for caregivers of Alzheimer's and other dementia patients. The Web site, which received the 2009 e-Healthcare Leadership Award, helps caregivers learn strategies to better care for people with dementia, especially how to adapt the home environment to meet the behavioral and physical needs of people with Alzheimer's.

Created by Rosemary Bakker, research associate in gerontologic design in medicine in the Division of Geriatrics and Gerontology at Weill Cornell Medical College, the site features videos, 3-D animations and photographs to provide experienced insight which explain the complex process of changing the home to match the stage of the patient's disease. There is also a social network which creates support and a place to share information, ask questions, and connect with an online caregiver community – to counteract being alienated and separated from the rest of humanity the way many Alzheimer’s caregivers feel.

Ms. Bakker shares, "When I was a caregiver, I learned that people with Alzheimer's experience the world differently than we do. Once you understand this, there is a lot caregivers can do, especially to the home environment, to help the person lead a safer, more functional and fulfilling life. And it makes caregiving less difficult and more rewarding. But without guidance, it's easy to get overwhelmed."

The Web site takes you on a "virtual" visit through a typical house, providing the specific details along with a how to deal with issues that might arise in the kitchen, bathroom, living room and bedroom. Also, presented are safe bathing, installing stove turn-off devices and timers, lighting that can soothe an agitated person, and a door monitoring device.

While ThisCaringHome.org is geared toward family caregivers, it is also helpful for professional caregivers who can burn out from dementia patients. Because this site is interactive and easy to navigate, caregivers will be more likely to use it. When a caregiver is stressed and depleted, reading information can be difficult to process. This site takes this problem into consideration.
For more information on caregiving read my book, Changing Habits: The Caregivers' Total Workout. To listen to archived radio shows with guest experts visit Turn On Your Inner Light Radio Show



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