Can assistive technologies reduce caregiver burden among informal caregivers of older adults?

The world population is rapidly ageing. As population age, the incidence of functional limitations increases, demanding higher levels of care from caregivers. Assistive technologies improve individuals’ functioning, independence, well-being and quality of life. By increasing independence of older adults, assistive technologies decrease workloads required from informal caregivers. This review investigates, evaluates, and synthesises existing findings to examine whether and how assistive technologies reduce caregiver burden.

The study’s author searched the following databases: MEDLINE, EMBASE, Scopus, and Cochrane Library. Three groups of keywords were combined: those relating to assistive technology, caregiver burden, and older adults.

Two theories emerged from the analysis of study results. Caregivers reported that assistive technologies decrease caregiver burden. However, caregivers had concerns that assistive technologies could add to caregiver burden, highlighting the limitations of assistive technology.

As suggested by a majority of the studies in this review, assistive technologies contribute to reducing caregiver burden among caregivers of older adults. Assistive technologies assisted caregivers by reducing time, levels of assistance and energy put towards caregiving, anxiety and fear, task difficulty, safety risk particularly for activities requiring physical assistance and increasing the independence of the users.

Assistive technologies can reduce caregiver burden among informal caregivers of older adults. Further research is required to better understand the effectiveness of assistive technologies in reducing caregiver burden as well as limitations and barriers associated with using assistive technologies.