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Take the First Step.

Increasing awareness of resources available to Family Caregivers that have loved ones diagnosed/un-diagnosed with Dementia.

Photo of Cynthia Ballou
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Who is your idea designed for and how does it better support family caregivers as they care for a loved one with dementia?

My idea is designed for the un-paid Family Caregiver taking care of their loved one with early or mid-stage Dementia. My idea is to support viable resources that aid in their loved ones health both now and in the future. The following resources come to mind: Advanced Care Planning - an appointment made with a physician (covered by Medicare) to discuss a care plan, before during or after diagnosis; Respite Care - planned visit from a Home Health Caregiver to relieve the Family Caregiver.

Most people do not know all the resources that are available to them. Most of which are covered by insurance, including Medicare. I want to educate them on these resources so that they can take the first steps without having to think twice about it. This biggest burdens with Family Caregiving are acceptance of the disease and Caregiver burn-out.  

Advanced Care Planning can provide support during the acceptance stage. All the Family Caregiver has to do is schedule an appointment with a physician. The physician will then assess and assist on a care plan now and for the future. Advanced care planning helps people and their families navigate through all of the logistical-stressers so they have more time to accept the disease itself. The care plan asks questions like "Where would I want myself/my loved one to live when I cannot take care of myself/my loved one?, What company would provide care services? Who is going to speak for me/my loved one if I cannot speak for myself?".  

Respite Care visits are provided by a Home Health Agency or freelance Caregiver of their choosing. This solves the problem of Caregiver burn-out by relieving the Family Caregiver for a time/date/duration of their choice up-to 1-week. Most companies that provide Respite Care visits also offer Spiritual Support from Licensed Social Workers.  

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

Write blogs, create info graphics and posts on Social Media Platforms to test the engagement and response rate, see if they find it useful.

What skills, input, or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

The OpenIDEO community could bring value to my idea by providing input/feedback on my idea. We all start with an idea but group collaboration is what makes a new idea work!

How long has your idea existed?

  • 0-3 months

This idea emerged from

  • An Individual

Tell us about your work experience:

I have worked in Home Health Care and Hospice since June of 2016. I started as a Digital Marketing Specialist for a start-up Home Health Agency. I was then promoted to an outside position as a Transitional Care Liaison for Home Health and Hospice.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Joanna Spoth

Hi Cynthia Ballou - thanks for your idea! Advanced Care Planning can be an important part of planning for dementia. Do you have an idea for how more people might be inspired to take this step? Is there some way you might be able to do a small experiment on that - perhaps tying in your mention of small groups in your response to Kate?

Photo of Cynthia Ballou

Thank you! I believe people might be inspired to pursue Advanced Care Planning with their Doctor if Doctors themselves were advocating for this. Small groups or networking with the right people - in this case either families or health care providers. Getting the word out about Advanced Care Planning will be the first big step. It is difficult to get people to change their behaviors.

I work in the health care industry so I think that puts me at an advantage to conduct small experiments on this idea!

I will be sure to keep you updated if you would like. I work with physicians a lot already - advocating for Advanced Care Planning because I think it's not only easy but extremely important for the senior population.

Photo of Joanna Spoth

Cynthia Ballou thank you for your work in gaining awareness around Advanced Care Planning! It's a hugely important piece of healthy aging. We'd love to have your perspective be part of our Refinement Phase - head on over and drop a comment on ideas that catch your eye!

Photo of Cynthia Ballou

No problem, I enjoy it! I will be sure to head over to the refinement phase to provide comments.

Thank you.

Photo of Kate Rushton

Hi Cynthia,

As well as physicians, who else could help in the development of care plans?

What types of people would you need feedback from to take your idea to the next step?

What might be the biggest barriers to the development of your idea?

I look forward to reading your response.

Photo of Cynthia Ballou

Hi Kate,

In addition to Physicians, Home Health Care Agencies, Hospice Organizations, Local Support Groups (either through a Church or found online through other meetup groups) can help in the development of a care plan.

To take my idea to the next step, I would need feedback from the families themselves. I would like to know is this information helpful? Do you see yourself using any of these resources available to you?

The biggest barrier in the development of my idea is that I have not received feedback from families with loved ones currently or previously experiencing the outcomes of Dementia.