Some families enrolled in the study will have access to around-the-clock consultations, online education and remote monitoring of dementia patients.
The lead researcher is Dr. Steve Bonasera, who specializes in geriatrics at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha.
“How does this approach work in urban settings, suburban settings, rural settings and frontier settings,” Dr. Bonasera says. “How does this work with people of different economic opportunities?”
The study aims to recruit more than 2,000 families in a variety of locations to capture a snapshot of dementia care in the U.S.
Researchers want to cultivate more cohesive care using web-based resources and by having navigators regularly check in with caregivers. While those navigators have no formal medical training, Bonasera says they are taught how to triage problems specific to dementia patients.
“Some of our navigators have spent two and three weeks trying different solutions to address specific problems until we finally iterate onto a solution that everyone can live with and that works,” he says.
In addition to Nebraska, researchers are recruiting participants from Iowa and California.
The goal is to collect data on dementia care across several social, economic, geographic and racial populations. Bonasera says he hopes the study will help families be more proactive in caregiving and decision-making.