An increasing number of caregivers are assisting care-recipients from a distance. According to the National Institute of Aging, a long-distance caregiver is anyone who resides an hour or more away from the person receiving their care. Distance caregiving can involve activities related to the physical, psychological, intellectual, social and spiritual needs of the care-recipient. Traditionally, distance caregivers have addressed the issue of solitude through the use of the telephone, e-mails, electronic messaging and, more recently, video messaging such as Zoom. With recent technological advances involving the use of the Internet, surveillance, sensors, virtual reality and artificial intelligence, however, we are now in the era of telecaregiving.
Aligning with the World Health Organization’s definition of Telehealth, the Caregiver Coalition Fund of America (CareCFA) has defined Telecaregiving as the provisioning of family caregiver services to care-recipients through the use of telecommunications, virtual technologies and emerging technologies in fields such as augmented reality, robotics and live video platforms. The application of these advanced technologies to caregiving will help to minimize negative health consequences experienced by caregivers and their care-recipients; in particular, depression, heart disease, stroke, immune system disorders and death due to actual or perceived social isolation and/or loneliness (Hussain, et.al., 2016; Khullar, 2016; Valtorta, et.al., 2018).
The goal of the Caregiver Coalition Fund of America’s Telecaregiving program is to highlight technological advances in support of family caregivers. The program will use technology to enhance the psychosocial experience of family caregivers/carers as they interact with their care-recipients. Telecaregiving will also be utilized to promote the retention of caregivers in the workforce and to reduce the number of students who drop out of high school because of their caregiving responsibilities. Through CareCFA’s Telecaregiving program, Care Communities are being established to minimize the negative affects associated with social isolation and/or loneliness.
Hussain, R., S. Wark and P. Ryan. 2018. Caregiving, employment and social isolation: Challenges for rural carers in Australia. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 15: 2267-2281.
Khullar, D. 2016. How social isolation is killing us. New York Times, Section A, Page 3, December 22.
Valtorta, N.K., M. Kanaan, S. Gilbody, S. Ronzi and B. Hanratty. 2016. Loneliness and social isolation as risk factors for coronary heart disease and stroke: Systematic review and meta-analysis of longitudinal observational studies. Heart 102: 1009-1016.