Designing and Evaluating Digital Mindfulness-based Interventions for Older Informal Carers

Wilson, Michael (2021) Designing and Evaluating Digital Mindfulness-based Interventions for Older Informal Carers. Doctoral thesis, Dundalk Institute of Technology.

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Across the world a change in demographics is occurring, with the average age of populations increasing alongside longer life expectancy. Increases in demand for health care alongside fewer staff and resources available are resulting in policy shifts towards ageing in place. The number of older informal carers, often caring for an older family member or friend, will therefore continue to grow. A significant issue facing this cohort is stress, which can negatively affect other areas of health wellbeing such as sleep quality, physical health and psychological wellbeing. Mobile technologies delivering interventions offer an important alternative to traditional, face-to-face support which may not be accessible for those unable to leave a care recipient unattended for significant periods of time, or for those living in rural areas. Moreover, mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) have been used to increase awareness and support coping strategies by providing carers with tools to manage their emotional and physical health and wellbeing. This thesis investigates the problem of chronic stress among older informal carers of persons with dementia and its negative impact on health and wellbeing, as well as the potential for mindfulness training, education, feedback and health self-management to address this phenomenon. The study focussed on the design and delivery of a digital application, Mind Yourself, delivering an MBI to manage stress alongside blood pressure, activity and sleep management through tracking, data visualizations and educational advice. An eight-week home-based trial was conducted to evaluate experiences and usage of the application with eight older informal carers of persons with dementia. The work presented extends current research by focussing on the user-centred design of a digital mindfulness-based intervention specifically for older informal carers of persons with dementia. The study demonstrates that a viable and potentially effective means to support stress management is through the integration of a digital MBI into a digital health and wellbeing application. Findings from the trial suggest that this approach and design is acceptable, feasible, usable and engaging for older informal carers. Results from both the trial and the study overall would suggest that further research in the area of digital MBIs and connected health for older informal carers is warranted. Reaching this cohort and providing them with the tools and strategies to more effectively look after health and wellbeing could result in both the carer and care recipient remaining at home for as long as possible.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: Computer Science
Social Sciences > Older people
Research Centres: UNSPECIFIED
Depositing User: Julie Doyle
Date Deposited: 15 Oct 2021 14:14
Last Modified: 15 Oct 2021 14:14

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