Dementia Care Partner Self-Care

In the US, over 15 million family and friends care partners take care of the 6 million people living with dementia. Caring for a person living with dementia can be rewarding, but also stressful, demanding, and overwhelming.  It can lead to an increased risk for poor physical and mental health. Doing self-care behaviors can lower these risks and improve care partners’ health.  It is important to help care partners of people living with dementia do self-care.

DPEN developed a way to measure self-care—the Managing Your Own Wellness (MYOW) tool.  The MYOW tool is made up of 31 self-care tasks that are important for dementia care partners. These tasks are divided into 3 categories:

  • Universal: Tasks we all need to do to live, such as eating, drinking fluids, and sleeping
  • Health promotion: Tasks that improve our health and wellness, such as exercise and socializing
  • Developmental: Tasks specific to the caregiving role, such as asking for help with caregiving tasks

The MYOW tool was then used to develop an intervention to improve self-care behaviors in dementia care partners.

MYOW Intervention

A team developed the MYOW intervention using a behavioral change model to help care partners create daily self-care habits. The MYOW intervention uses a self-care coach who uses the MYOW tool to help care partners identify a self-care activity and develop a SMART goal (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-based). The care partners then complete a daily diary through email to report their progress. The self-care coach meets with care partners weekly to provide support and address any troubles.

This intervention was tested with 19 dementia care partners.  They said they had positive behavioral health outcomes, but they wanted a more user-friendly way to do the intervention.

Read about one care giver’s experience with the MYOW intervention: MYOW Poster for Nursing Science Day 2023


The DPEN team worked with a group of Human Centered Design and Engineering graduate students at the UW who designed an app for the MYOW intervention. This team interviewed dementia care partners, developed a “user journey map,” and created a prototype for this app.

Screenshot of phone app that reads: "You do not have a self-care goal. Create my first goal"Screenshot of phone app that reads: "I will walk 30 min every day after I eat breakfast. Log for today. This week's progress: April 11 - 17, 2021"

The DPEN team is currently seeking funding to develop a fully functioning app.  With funding, the DPEN team will conduct more research on the MYOW intervention and use of the app.

If you are interested in helping to fund MYOW research, please fill out our Get Involved with DPEN form.