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The Protective Impact of Telemedicine on Persons With Dementia and Their Caregivers During the COVID-19 Pandemic.


ABSTRACT: OBJECTIVES:Social distancing under the COVID-19 pandemic has restricted access to community services for older adults with neurocognitive disorder (NCD) and their caregivers. Telehealth is a viable alternative to face-to-face service delivery. Telephone calls alone, however, may be insufficient. Here, we evaluated whether supplementary telehealth via video-conferencing platforms could bring additional benefits to care-recipient with NCD and their spousal caregivers at home. PARTICIPANTS:Sixty older adults NCD-and-caregiver dyads were recruited through an activity center. DESIGN, INTERVENTION:The impact of additional services delivered to both care-recipient and caregiver through video conference (n?=?30) was compared with telehealth targeted at caregivers by telephone only (n?=?30), over 4 weeks in a pretest-post-test design. Interviews and questionnaires were conducted at baseline and study's end. MEASUREMENTS, RESULTS:Supplementary telemedicine had averted the deterioration in the Montreal Cognitive Assessment evident in the telephone-only group (?p2?=?0.50). It also reversed the falling trend in quality of life observed in the telephone only group (QoL-AD, ?p2?=?0.23). Varying degrees of improvements in physical and mental health (Short-Form 36 v2), perceived burden (Zarit Burden Interview Scale) and self-efficacy (Revised Caregiving Self-Efficacy Scale) were observed among caregivers in the video-conferencing group, which were absent in the telephone-only group (?p2?=?0.23-0.51). CONCLUSION:Telemedicine by video conference was associated with improved resilience and wellbeing to both people with NCD and their caregivers at home. The benefits were visible already after 4 weeks and unmatched by telephone alone. Video conference as the modus operandi of telehmedicine beyond the context of pandemic-related social distancing should be considered.

SUBMITTER: Lai FH 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC7413846 | BioStudies | 2020-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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