Claire L. Barco, Koji Yatani, Yuanye Ma, and Joyojeet Pal
With a general trend worldwide towards greater life expectancies, interventions and tools that can help caregivers working in elder care are becoming increasingly important. In China, with a greater number and proportion of elders due to the long-term effects of the one-child policy, these interventions and tools are needed even more. Improved communication between care staff of an institutional home can reduce medical errors and improve coordination of care. At the same time, increased conversation with elders with cognitive impairments like dementia or Alzheimer's can help the elder to maintain their cognitive ability, and can reduce negative feelings like loneliness. Our qualitative study with eleven institutional caregivers in Beijing delved into the communication patterns that exist between caregivers and elders with dementia. We found that knowing more about each individual resident's disposition and personal history was helpful in maintaining quality care, that many care staff in China use placating talk as a means to calm or guide elders to a desired action, and that care staff found the topic of past careers or past 'glories' to be the most efficient in getting elders to chat. In addition, we also found that much of the information that is gleaned through working with an elder long-term is not recorded or shared in any official capacity with other care workers, an area where technology could be particularly helpful.
In ACM SIGACCESS International Conference on Computers and Accessibility