The Protective Impact of Telecare on Persons with Dementia and their Caregivers During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Frank Lai*, Elaine Wai hung Yan, Kathy Ka ying Yu, Wing Sze Tsui, Benjamin K. Yee

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Background: Social distancing under the COVID-19 pandemic has restricted access to community services for older adults with neurocognitive disorder (NCD) and their caregivers. Telehealth is a viable alternative to face-to-face service delivery. Telephone calls alone, however, may be insufficient. Here, we evaluated whether supplementary telehealth via video-conferencing platforms could bring additional benefits to care-recipient with NCD and their spousal caregivers at home.
Method: Sixty older adults NCD-and-caregiver dyads were recruited through an activity centre. The impact of additional services delivered to both care-recipient and caregiver through video conference (n=30) was compared with telehealth targeted at caregivers by telephone only (n=30), over 4 weeks in a pretest-posttest design. Interviews and questionnaires were conducted at baseline and study’s end.
Result: Supplementary telemedicine had averted the deterioration in the Montreal Cognitive Assessment evident in the telephone-only group (ηp2=0.50). It also reversed the falling trend in quality of life observed in the telephone only group (QoL-AD, ηp2=0.23). Varying degrees of improvements in physical and mental health (Short-Form 36 v2), perceived burden (Zarit Burden Interview Scale) and self-efficacy (Revised Caregiving Self-Efficacy Scale) were observed among caregivers in the video-conferencing group, which were absent in the telephone-only group (ηp2=0.23–0.51).
Conclusion: Telehealth by video conference was associated with improved resilience and wellbeing to both people with NCD and their caregivers at home. The benefits were visible already after 4 weeks and unmatched by telephone alone. Video conference as the modus operandi of telehealth beyond the context of pandemic-related social distancing should be considered.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jul 2021
Externally publishedYes
Event2021 Alzheimer's Association International Conference -
Duration: 26 Jul 202130 Jul 2021


Conference2021 Alzheimer's Association International Conference
Abbreviated titleAAIC
Internet address


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