SASKATOON -- Researchers at the University of Saskatchewan are developing an app to support those who care for family members with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Donna Goodridge, the lead researcher on the project, was the sole caregiver of her mother who had dementia for 10 years.

She works as a professional healthcare provider but said the personal experience of caregiving was a challenge.

"I felt totally unprepared at an emotional level to deal with all of those ups and downs ... with those feelings of helplessness, of grieving for the mother that I used to have,” she said.

One in four people in Canada are looking after a family member or friend with dementia, and the stress can be overwhelming, according to Goodridge.

Her experience led her to create an app based on mindful self-compassion to help alleviate some of that stress.

"Mindful self-compassion is a way for us to take a step back, to recognize that this is a moment of difficulty, that we need to be kind to ourselves, that we need to be gentle with ourselves ... and we need to know that we're not alone, that there are many people in this situation and there are people that can help us,” Goodridge said.

The Caregiver Self-Compassion and Support app offers several podcasts, videos, supports and resources for caregivers.

Jenna Neiser, a computer science research assistant on the project, said it’s an eight-week course that can be accessed at any time of the day.

"We focused on nutrition one week ... and we focused more on self-care and mindfulness the first week and we focus on sleep for another week. So, it really tries to encompass all those things that might benefit them,” she said.

Neiser adds that the app is user-friendly for those who aren’t tech savy.

Laura Steeves-Green, a first link co-ordinator for the Alzheimer’s Society of Saskatchewan, said tools to help caregivers manage stress are needed.

"A support group isn't for everybody, and especially for folks in our rural areas where we don't have a lot of programming. Being able to have that app at your fingertips is really, really helpful and so we're definitely happy to see it,” Steeves-Green said.

Goodridge said she has high hopes for the app.

"Tomorrow is a different day, different stresses. The app, I think is one way to remind people about that."

The app is still being tested and will likely be available to the public in the next six to eight months.

Right now, the app is specifically designed for Saskatchewan, but the research team said the hope is to make it accessible for people all across Canada and for all types of caregivers, not just Alzheimer’s or dementia.