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      Telegerontology as a Novel Approach to Address Health and Safety by Supporting Community-Based Rural Dementia Care Triads: Randomized Controlled Trial Protocol

      , BA (Psych) Hon, MScMed 1 , , , BKin 1 ,   , BSc PT, MSc, PhD 1 , , MD, CCFP, FCFP 2
      (Reviewer), (Reviewer), (Reviewer)
      JMIR Research Protocols
      JMIR Publications
      Aging, Remote Assessment, Monitoring

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          Telegerontology is an approach using videoconferencing to connect an interdisciplinary team in a regional specialty center to patients in rural communities, which is becoming increasingly practical for addressing current limitations in rural community-based dementia care.


          Using the remotely-delivered expertise of the Telegerontology dementia care team, we aim to enhance the caregiver/patient/physician triad and thereby provide the necessary support for the person with dementia to “age in place.”


          This is a cluster randomized feasibility trial with four rural regions in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada (2 regions randomly assigned to “intervention” and 2 to “control”). The study population includes 22 “dementia triads” that consist of a community-dwelling older Canadian with moderate to late dementia, their family caregivers, and their Primary Care Physician (PCP). Over the 6-month active study period, all participants will be provided an iPad. The intervention is intended as an adjunct to existing PCP care, consisting of weekly Skype-based videoconferencing calls with the Telegerontology physician, and other team members as needed (occupational therapist, physical therapist etc). Control participants receive usual community-based dementia care with their PCP. A baseline (pre-) assessment will be performed during a home visit with the study team. Post intervention, 6- and 12-month follow-up assessments will be collected remotely using specialized dementia monitoring applications and Skype calls. Primary outcomes include admission to long-term care, falls, emergency room visits, hospital stays, and caregiver burden.


          Results will be available in March of 2018.


          Results from this study will demonstrate a novel approach to dementia care that has the potential to impact both rural PCPs, family caregivers, and people with dementia, as well as provide evidence for the utility of Telegerontology in models of eHealth-based care.

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          Most cited references30

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          Family caregivers of people with dementia

          Family caregivers of people with dementia, often called the invisible second patients, are critical to the quality of life of the care recipients. The effects of being a family caregiver, though sometimes positive, are generally negative, with high rates of burden and psychological morbidity as well as social isolation, physical ill-health, and financial hardship. Caregivers vulnerable to adverse effects can be identified, as can factors which ameliorate or exacerbate burden and strain. Psychosocial interventions have been demonstrated to reduce caregiver burden and depression and delay nursing home admission. Comprehensive management of the patient with dementia includes building a partnership between health professionals and family caregivers, referral to Alzheimer's Associations, and psychosocial interventions where indicated.
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            Caregiving as a risk factor for mortality: the Caregiver Health Effects Study.

            There is strong consensus that caring for an elderly individual with disability is burdensome and stressful to many family members and contributes to psychiatric morbidity. Researchers have also suggested that the combination of loss, prolonged distress, the physical demands of caregiving, and biological vulnerabilities of older caregivers may compromise their physiological functioning and increase their risk for physical health problems, leading to increased mortality. To examine the relationship between caregiving demands among older spousal caregivers and 4-year all-cause mortality, controlling for sociodemographic factors, prevalent clinical disease, and subclinical disease at baseline. Prospective population-based cohort study, from 1993 through 1998 with an average of 4.5 years of follow-up. Four US communities. A total of 392 caregivers and 427 noncaregivers aged 66 to 96 years who were living with their spouses. Four-year mortality, based on level of caregiving: (1) spouse not disabled; (2) spouse disabled and not helping; (3) spouse disabled and helping with no strain reported; or(4) spouse disabled and helping with mental or emotional strain reported. After 4 years of follow-up, 103 participants (12.6%) died. After adjusting for sociodemographic factors, prevalent disease, and subclinical cardiovascular disease, participants who were providing care and experiencing caregiver strain had mortality risks that were 63% higher than noncaregiving controls (relative risk [RR], 1.63; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.00-2.65). Participants who were providing care but not experiencing strain (RR, 1.08; 95 % CI, 0.61-1.90) and those with a disabled spouse who were not providing care (RR, 1.37; 95% CI, 0.73-2.58) did not have elevated adjusted mortality rates relative to the noncaregiving controls. Our study suggests that being a caregiver who is experiencing mental or emotional strain is an independent risk factor for mortality among elderly spousal caregivers. Caregivers who report strain associated with caregiving are more likely to die than noncaregiving controls.
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              The Barthel ADL Index: a standard measure of physical disability?

              There is no agreed single measure of physical disability for use either clinically or in research. It is argued that acceptance of a single standard measure of activities of daily living (ADL) might increase awareness of disability, improve clinical management of disabled patients, and might even increase acceptance of published research. The Barthel ADL Index is proposed as the standard index for clinical and research purposes. Its validity, reliability, sensitivity, and utility are discussed. The Barthel Index is as good as any other single simple index, and should be adopted as the standard against which future indices are compared. The temptation to use variations on the standard Barthel Index should be resisted.

                Author and article information

                JMIR Res Protoc
                JMIR Res Protoc
                JMIR Research Protocols
                JMIR Publications (Toronto, Canada )
                February 2018
                22 February 2018
                : 7
                : 2
                : e56
                [1] 1 Recovery and Performance Lab Faculty of Medicine Memorial University of Newfoundland St John's, NL Canada
                [2] 2 Discipline of Family Medicine Faculty of Medicine Memorial University of Newfoundland St John's, NL Canada
                Author notes
                Corresponding Author: Elizabeth M. Wallack ewallack@ 123456mun.ca
                Author information
                ©Elizabeth M. Wallack, Chelsea Harris, Michelle Ploughman, Roger Butler. Originally published in JMIR Research Protocols (http://www.researchprotocols.org), 22.02.2018.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in JMIR Research Protocols, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on http://www.researchprotocols.org, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.

                : 14 August 2017
                : 21 September 2017
                : 30 November 2017
                : 6 January 2018

                aging,remote assessment,monitoring
                aging, remote assessment, monitoring


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