New VirtuALZ Program Aims to Offer Caregiver Support
Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) can be overwhelming. To help ease the caregiver burden — and ultimately benefit patients — a Florida-based company called VirtuALZ is offering a new virtual support program.
Crafted specifically to support caregivers of patients who have Alzheimer’s and related dementias, VirtuALZ’s program uses calls, texts, and emails to communicate with clients during their everyday lives. The company’s Care Navigation teams also use a proprietary cloud technology platform to assess hospitalization risk with the goal of improving clinical and social outcomes.
According to VirtuALZ, up to 75% of those with Alzheimer’s or related dementias are assisted by informal caregivers — oftentimes spouses, children, or other relatives. These caregivers often find it challenging to juggle caregiving and the navigation of what is, at least in the U.S., a complex healthcare system.
Burnout often ensues, the company says. And because many caregivers lack support, they sometimes make decisions that result in unnecessary and expensive medical care.
With the VirtuALZ program, caregivers receive the direction and support needed to make better-informed decisions that can reduce the frequency of hospitalizations and emergency room visits — and improve post-acute care outcomes, according to the company.
“Caregivers develop personal relationships with their dedicated Care Navigation team, which includes an assigned care navigator supported by a social worker and a registered nurse,” said Robert Gregoire, VirtuALZ CEO, in a press release. “This enables us to provide a full spectrum of support.”
Under the program, caregivers can contact their team of experts for guidance, clarification, up-to-date personalized resources and information, strategies, and best practices. For example, a caregiver may need help dealing with challenging dementia-related behavior.
The program is different from a traditional helpline, according to VirtuALZ, in that it aims to become each caregiver’s long-term care partner. As such, team members get to know the caregiver and the loved one with dementia, and what works best for them.
The program provides services on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. EST.
Individuals may be enrolled in the program, as can those who reside in assisted living facilities, with some qualifications. Such facilities can partner with the program to become direct service providers. Insurers also can join the VirtuALZ network and become insurance partners.
“VirtuALZ is a partner in your caregiver journey,” the program states on its webpage. “By working together to monitor your loved one’s behavioral and physical state on a regular basis, the VirtuALZ team plays a key role in uncovering potential underlying conditions before they become a crisis.”