International Project Seeks to Deliver Improved Wellbeing for Ireland’s 60,000 Dementia Family Carers

As National Carers Week continues across the country, family carers providing care for someone with dementia are to be given an opportunity to benefit from their ‘friendships’ on social media.

An online ‘friendsourcing’ project will begin recruiting family carers over the coming weeks, giving the opportunity for Facebook friends to offer support to those who they know are caring for a relative with dementia.

The ‘friendsourcing’ will be combined with intensive professionally moderated online support through a closed peer-support Facebook group.

In collaboration with dementia experts in Indiana University and the Alzheimer Society of Ireland, Care Alliance Ireland looks forward to leading this exciting new project.

Speaking about the project, Professor David Wilkerson, Indiana University said: “Family Carers’ social and support networks can shrink when caregiving role demands increase.

“This intervention provides carers practice and support in the use of social media to develop their social and support networks online. The intervention has been shown in previous research to have the potential to improve coping, reduce burden, and reduce perceived stress.”

Dr Daniel Bateman, a collaborator on the project from the Indiana Alzheimer Disease Center at Indiana University, said “Most family carers don’t take time for themselves, because they are too busy caring for their loved ones.

“This is one of the main reasons that carers don’t attend support groups. Friendsourcing lets carers receive the support they need on their own schedule, online, without having to leave home or the person with dementia.”

Fergus Timmons, development manager with the Alzheimer Society of Ireland, said, “We are very pleased to be involved in this exciting initiative. We think it will provide a new and innovative way to support family carers of people with dementia, who often feel isolated and frustrated in their roles.”

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