Telehealth as effective as face-to-face intervention for patients with dementia

The new findings were released online in the peer-reviewed American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

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A new study released in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry investigated the dyadic use of telehealth methods for dementia-based intervention and determined it to be as effective as the traditional face-to-face interventions initiated through visitations.

Dementia, a common condition caused by progressive cognitive decline typically among older adults, results in increased assistance for health care from friends and family members. Researchers aimed at establishing telehealth as a beneficial form of therapeutic intervention for patients with worsening cognitive health.

“The majority (70%) of people with dementia live in their own home and rely on family members and friends for assistance. Families (described hereafter as care partners) of people with dementia are considered to be key therapeutic agents in care,” according to researchers. “Gradual functional and cognitive decline lead to increased need for assistance from families, higher healthcare costs, and institutionalization.”

In their study, 63 patients diagnosed with dementia were recruited from clinic/hospital settings and local council newsletters. The enrolled participants required assistance due to impairment in daily activities, including behavioral abnormalities associated with the condition.

“Eligible participants required assistance with activities of daily living as reported by their carer and/or were experiencing changed behaviors associated with dementia such as apathy, restlessness, anxiety, and sleep disturbance overnight,” the findings stated. “They were required to have a family member or friend who was closely involved in their care and was able to participate in the intervention.”

The participants were instructed to either receive telehealth or traditional face-to-face intervention for their condition. Time spent delivering the intervention, in addition to travel time, was assessed by the Flinders research group.

As detailed in the findings, both forms of interventions resulted in profound improvements in caregiver’s perceptions of change, leading to the conclusion that telehealth is as effective as the traditional face-to-face interventions.

“The amount of time spent delivering the content of the program was similar between groups, however offering the intervention via telehealth significantly reduced travel time,” the findings showed.

“It is feasible to offer dyadic interventions via telehealth and doing so reduces travel time and results in similar benefits for families.”

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