New Alert System Helps Caregivers Sleep, Tampa Bay

Weary caregivers of chronically ill loved ones may be able to sleep a little sounder this summer.

CareAlert, an electronic sensor alert system, goes on the market in June, according to its creator, Dr. Meredeth Rowe. Rowe is on the faculty at USF's College of Nursing. The system is comprised of silent motion detectors and a handheld device that gives off a sound alert and text message communicating a patient's whereabouts in the house. This is especially useful for those caring for Alzheimer's and dementia patients who tend to stray when getting up to go to the bathroom at night. 

Rowe says the CareAlert system will go a long way toward protecting not only the patient, but the caregiver too.

"Caregiving and lack of sleep are related to heart disease," says Rowe. "Poor sleep is one of the reasons caregivers have poor health. When I was working on ways to provide caregivers better quality of sleep, I looked for systems and there were none. I realized that unless I invented a system that allowed them quality sleep, I was never going to have an impact on improving their sleep.''

Rowe partnered with others such as Stephen Greenstein and RoBrady Product Design to help her develop a system. This formed the genesis of Caregiver Watch, LLC, the company through which CareAlert will be sold.

Rowe says trials run on the CareAlert system resulted in 86 percent reduction in injuries to patients with dementia, and she hopes to begin a study that will identify ways to help caregivers relax that will coincide with the launch of the CareAlert system in June.

The ultimate goal of that research is to understand why caregiver health is worse as a result of the caregiving experience. All of the research will take place at the caregiver's home using Skype and iPad technologies along with a sleep interventionist, says Christina McCrae, an associate professor at the University of Florida. "We’ll be measuring for heart disease and see if they get better when sleep improves."

Writer: Missy Kavanaugh
Source: Dr. Meredeth Rowe, Caregiver Watch, LLC 
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