Diane Blyler

More than five-million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer’s disease and that number is expected to grow to as high as 16-million by 2050.

Researchers at the University of Iowa are studying ways to help the caregivers of family members or friends who have Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. The study’s director, Diane Blyler, says one of the greatest challenges for those caregivers is the uncertainty of the disease.

“You can’t say, if someone has a diagnosis…of dementia, that this is going to happen here and then this is going to happen here,” Blyler said. “Each one is different, progression is different, so people don’t always know what is going to happen next. It’s a challenge to be ready for the unpredictability of what’s going to happen.”

More participants are needed in the U-I College of Nursing study. “We are able to enroll families who are caring for people with any type of dementia,” Blyler said. “So, it’s not just Alzheimer’s, for example. It can be any type.”

Participants in the study fill out questionnaires and also use an iPAD, provided by the U-I, to record and share videos with a team of dementia care experts. Each caregiver enrolled in the study is paid $225 for a three-month commitment. Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in Iowa, which ranks among the top five states for the percentage of people 65 and older.

Iowans who are caring for a dementia patient in their home and want to participate in the study can contact Blyler by email ( [email protected] ) or by calling 319-335-3488.