Monday, January 25, 2016

Cameras: Should Caregivers Wear Them to Videotape Dementia Behavior? (Research)

One of my favorite quotes is this: “The bear and the rabbit will never agree on how fierce the dog is.” It all really depends on each one’s perspective of the dog. In the above photo, some people will see a duck, while others will see a rabbit. Many may eventually see both. Depending on the questioning, their stories may differ on what they really saw at a particular time. Recently in the news, we have been reading about more police departments investing in cameras for officers to wear while on duty. The purpose is to provide more visual and audio evidence to further validate what really did happen in addition to what eyewitnesses say they saw and heard. 

This leads to a discussion about cameras and caregivers of persons who have dementia. When caregivers describe to healthcare staff the behaviors of those who have dementia, would it be better if they also had a video or photo in addition to their version of what they saw? Some people think this additional description would be beneficial, particularly if caregivers might be biased or unintentionally selective in their own explanation of behaviors.

Research on caregivers and wearable cameras was done to discover how useful it would be if they used camera systems to record 79 events over a total of 140 hours of data captured from 3-7 days. How did the caregivers rate this procedure? While they thought the system was easy to learn to use, even though cumbersome, they had few negative reactions. Overall, the research suggested that caregivers of people with dementia “can and will wear a camera system to reveal their daily caregiving challenges to healthcare providers.”

What do you think about this kind of surveillance? Would you wear a camera as a caregiver? What do you think about this kind of observation from the point of view of the person with dementia?

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.


  1. I would be more in favour of surveillance cameras that capture the whole scene. It's my observation that caregiver behaviour, including words and tone of voice, lack of understanding of the dementia, high resident to staff ratios and poorly designed environments are the primary causes of "problematic" responsive behaviours in people living with dementia.

    For example:


    Maybe people with dementia should wear cameras to document caregiver behaviour. #justsaying

  2. We used a camera that we mounted in the corner of the room and could access anywhere in the world via internet. We could hear everything and see everything. it was very helpful when we had one caregiver who became sloppy in her job and didn't care for mom correctly. I have to say I recommend a camera in the room under control of the family and not the caregiver.