We all want to grow old healthily. But what if one of your loved ones develops dementia and needs care in their daily lives? We know that there’s a shortage of formal caregivers in the Netherlands right now. So, in the future, or maybe this is already your reality, you might have to become their informal caregiver. Now informal caregivers are close relatives or friends of dementia patients and assist in numerous tasks such as health care, mobility, and in the household. Imagine doing all these extra tasks next to your own life, while you’re working at this insurance company… it is very straining. Therefore, we developed Relast, an app that helps informal caregivers to manage the emotional burden that comes along with caregiving. This app is going to make the customers of your company feel understood, and we’ll show you why you want that. Relast is an interactive app that makes you feel as though you’re chatting with a real person, when in reality you’re chatting with an avatar who gives computer-generated answers. This character guides you through the app, all the while asking how you are, and if needed, it gives suggestions for possible exercises that will help you relieve the emotional burden that you have.
Therefore, the aim of the app is to encourage users to perform emotional self-care. Why do we focus on the behaviour ‘emotional self-care’? Because there exists a problem among informal caregivers with taking time off for themselves. They struggle with relaxing and resting, leading to high levels of stress and exhaustion, as well as a higher chance of depression. Relast aims to decrease these issues, using psychological techniques such as reinforcement through praise messages, which create a positive association with emotional self-care in the user. Relast also sends reminders to help users remember to take some time for themselves, and increase adherence to the app. An app is a great platform, because it’s accessible at any time and any place, and suits many age groups. And yes, there exist numerous informational apps about dementia, or apps that help you with planning to get through the day. But our app is unique in the specific attention given to the experience as informal caregivers, and providing them emotional support through communication, mindfulness, or for example a walking exercise.