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How might we help caregivers better engage with their loved ones by “meeting them where they are”?

Connecting caregivers with creative approaches for managing dementia and building a community with other caregivers.

Photo of Daphne Puerto
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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?

This idea is designed for family caregivers at various points in their caregiving journey. By providing them with an outlet to connect with dementia experts, community-driven answers, and human connections, this concept harvests the successful techniques of caregivers in the myriad situations that arise with dementia to create a body of knowledge that is as human and personal as the caregiver's experience.

Co-authors: Naman Mandhan, Daphne Puerto

Conducting empathy and research on family caregivers revealed that in several instances, family caregivers can feel isolated, confused, and helpless due to a lack of understanding on how to navigate through their journey of being caregivers. Caregivers can be left without a clear understanding of how to respond to certain situations, where to find resources, who they can talk to, and what some of the behavioral variations in their care recipients mean.

This concept seeks to alleviate some of the stresses associated with this lack of understanding by providing family caregivers a platform where they can seek help, ask questions, and connect with individuals who are encountering similar situations as them.

Finding answers

Caregivers can submit a set of behaviors and needs to search for community-driven answers that solve complex circumstances, like a chronically lost wallet. They can access this information by web or phone, so the product is accessible to caregivers more comfortable on the phone. This is particularly helpful for those individuals who find it difficult to use more modern technological means of communication and would prefer a one-on-one conversation. For instance, a family caregiver could dial into a hotline, provide a description of the behaviors that their care recipient is exhibiting, as well as any known diagnoses. The operator can use this information and look up suggestions for how to counter these behaviors in a database.

Finding community

Using a location- and needs-based algorithm, we match caregivers with community members who can offer conversation and empathy online, on the phone, or in-person. This would be facilitated through a short series of simple questions. Similar mechanisms are employed by dating websites and in hospital residency programs to connect people with other people or resources. 

Through each conversation and shared experience from experts and novices around the world, the platform surfaces knowledge through methods like machine learning to serve as a living body of knowledge for people looking for help. The database is accessed by operators in the hotline, or by family caregivers themselves through a web platform.

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

Build a small network of family caregivers to seed information about themselves and the unique solutions they "hacked" during their caregiving experience. Using this information, we will connect caregivers and iterate on what factors play an important role in helping them connect to what they need to meet their family members where they are.

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

Input and guidance on establishing the algorithm for this information will be helpful, as well as any feedback from community members with first-hand experience as dementia caregiving. This idea requires a degree of community-driven knowledge that will not be possible without active participation.

How long has your idea existed?

  • 0-3 months

This idea emerged from

  • A group brainstorm
  • An OpenIDEO Outpost or Chapter

Tell us about your work experience:

We are a group of individuals with journalism, healthcare, entrepreneurship, design, and IT experience.


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Photo of Steve

Very creative. What inspired you?

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