Upper Iowa University students volunteer at Maple Crest Manor & Assisted Living in Fayette, Iowa.
FAYETTE, Iowa (June 4, 2014) – This summer, Sandra Meder, a UIU senior from Waukon, Iowa, will be traversing the state of Iowa speaking with caregivers of persons suffering from dementia and collecting data for a special research project thanks to a $2,000 scholarship from the R.J. McElroy Student/Faculty Research selection committee.
Dr. Melinda Heinz, assistant professor of psychology and faculty sponsor of "Caregiving in the 21st Century: Exploring Dementia Caregivers Technology Use," will oversee the process as Meder interviews caregivers, compiles the data and prepares a presentation for a symposium next spring. Meder is applying to graduate schools following her projected graduation from Upper Iowa University in May 2015 with degrees in psychology and human services, and in order to do so, wanted research experience that she could carry with her on future endeavors.
"The project entails two points of research," said Heinz. "First, we will be asking caregivers what behaviors they find the most challenging to deal with, whether it be wandering, aggression or other behaviors seen often in persons with dementia. The second is finding out what types of technology they utilize to assist them in coping in their caregiver role. We assume that younger caregivers use online support groups and tips to enhance how they deal with their loved ones, but what about older adults? Perhaps we can make using the resources online more of a reality for these older caregivers. We also want to discover the barriers that caregivers encounter when looking for support and resources."
"It is my hope that this research will enable the aging community to be able to learn how to utilize technology to have the proper support needed," said Meder. "In particular, I want the aging community to learn to be able to have the ability to stay at home longer with their loved ones before switching to more intensive care. Hopefully, the aging members of society will be able to use technology around them in order to stay happier and healthier longer."
Heinz and Meder will be contacting the Alzheimer's Association for a list of caregivers within Iowa, and specifically, eastern Iowa, as they prepare for interviews and data collection at the end of this month. The project will wrap in March in time for the presentation at the symposium hosted by the R. J. McElroy Student/Faculty Research selection committee in May 2015. Heinz is also hoping they can take their findings to a larger audience at a national conference.
About Upper Iowa University Founded in 1857, Upper Iowa University is a private, not-for-profit university providing undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 6,200 students – nationally and internationally – at its Fayette campus and learning centers worldwide. Upper Iowa University is a recognized innovator in offering accredited, quality programs through flexible, multiple delivery systems, including online and self-paced degree program. With a focus on developing leaders and lifelong learners, UIU provides dual enrollment programs for high school students as well as continuing education and professional development opportunities for learners of any age. For more information, visit www.uiu.edu.
Monica Bayer Heaton
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