People with dementia often get up at night, turning on appliances, opening doors, even wandering away. Lack of sleep is a common problem for the 15 million caregivers who live with a dementia patient. Chronic stress by itself is a risk factor for high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, heart attacks and stroke. “But there are other things at play,” said Meredeth Rowe, a professor at the USF College of Nursing. “That’s why we are trying to untangle this caregiver stress. Stress alone doesn’t have this effect. We’re looking at vigilance and sleep.” Rowe is the lead investigator on a federally funded study of sleep loss in caregivers. We are currently recruiting caregivers for an NIH-funded study that tests interventions intended to improve dementia caregiver sleep and overall health. Our researchers have over 20 years of NIH-funded research that focuses specifically on helping caregivers of persons with dementia. Our goal in this study is to test interventions that improve the sleep and overall health of dementia caregivers. “Caregivers don’t have to leave home or their loved one in order to participate,” she said. “We want to know if the monitoring system improves (caregiver) sleep, and if so, if that improves their biomarkers for heart disease.” Meredeth Rowe RN, PhD is the study principal investigator and has had many funded caregivers studies from National Institutes of Health and the Veterans Administration.
Only through the generosity of professionals who assist in referring caregivers to the study, and the caregivers who volunteer, will we be able to develop the most effective and useful interventions for future caregivers.
For information on the caregiver study, call (813) 974-1827 or email research project manager, Margaret Gross-King, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The USF team is placing a monitoring system in participants’ homes to alert them whenever the patient gets out of bed. They are seeking caregivers willing to use the CareAlert system, provide feedback and answer periodic questionnaires about coping.