Technology for Caregivers
According to the new Caregivers & Technology report from AARP, Only 7% of caregivers use technology for related duties, but 71% are interested in technology for caregivers.
Surveys and interviews were administered from October through December 2015 in order to better understand the current use of technology for caregivers, what kinds of functions caregivers are looking for in technology, and other factors. The report indicates that caregivers are most interested in using technology to:
- Manage and monitor medications
- Schedule and supervise medical appointments
- Assess health needs and conditions
- Ensure home safety
Of the 7% that are currently or have previously used technology for caregivers, the most used types are:
- Calendars and schedule organizers
- Lists to track activities
- Rx management (refill and delivery).
Other caregivers reported using technology to shop for assisted living/special care services, shop for in-home aide or caregiver, and to write or read inspirational content.
Insights to Technology for Caregivers
Caregivers are mainly looking for technology that will provide them with peace of mind, medication management, and a means of organization.
Peace of Mind
Caregivers want to know that their loved one is safe and well, even if they cannot be with them 24/7. About ¾ of respondents indicated that they would be interested in using monitoring and alerting technology, but only 10% currently use it. Some reasons that caregivers are reluctant to use these tools include perceived usefulness, complexity, and cost.
Nearly 80% of caregivers were interested in using technology to support medication management, but only 11% are using these. Some barriers to using technology, for this reason, are awareness, cost, and the time it would take.
Among caregivers, organization is the most cited reason for using technology. However, many caregivers see the need for improvement in these tools. They are looking for more integration to organize a variety of tasks in one place and to facilitate seamless communications with other family members to coordinate tasks. An easier scheduling interface for prompts and appointment reminders would also be beneficial.
Current Technology for Caregivers
For new caregivers, technology could be a lifesaver to help keep track of the endless responsibilities. Although there are some improvements to be made, current technologies are still helpful. Here are some popular technological tools and apps that caregivers are currently utilizing.
Though this is not necessarily an app, it would be extremely beneficial for those who are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or Dementia. These conditions often lead a loved one to wander away or get lost more easily. Most smartphones have GPS tracking, but not everyone has one. There are GPS monitoring jewelry pieces, but those could be easily discarded if forgotten. A more effective, but pricey alternative is called SmartSole, which is a device hidden in a shoe insert.
Medical Alert Devices
Personal emergency response systems (PERS) devices allow seniors to get quick assistance in the event of an emergency. One popular brand is Medical Guardian, which offers different devices with varying features. Some even have GPS tracking enabled. Depending on mobility, wearable PERS devices are usually recommended so the individual has easy access if something were to happen. Consumer Affairs created a review board for different medical alert systems to help caregivers choose the best one.
Resource Websites and Support Communities
Many websites, such as SeniorCaring.com, provide free resources and information for caregivers and seniors. From health conditions to FAQs relating to different caregiving duties, the website provides a support system for new caregivers as well as more experienced ones. Some resources include checklists, tips, and guides for senior living, new caregivers, and costs of senior care. The site also publishes articles and blogs to cover both fun and more serious topics in the caregiving and senior community.
Apps for Caregivers
AARP Caregiving App
This app seems to integrate almost everything that caregivers reported interest for in the report. The caregiver can monitor symptoms, coordinate with other family members or caregivers, and manage appointments and medication. In addition, there is a help center where caregivers can interact with professionals or other caregivers to find answers to common or urgent questions.
CareZone is referred to as a health information organizer, and it helps caregivers keep track of medical information. It allows the organization of medications, allergies, insurance cards, and ID cards to all be kept in one place. Caregivers can also create to-do lists for appointments and medication times, and access relevant news regarding the individual’s health conditions. The company states that all information is private and secure, which is a plus.
Alzheimer’s Caregiver Buddy
Developed by the Alzheimer’s Association, this app is designed to help caregivers manage personal stress, family conflict, and also provides a 24/7 helpline. There are daily care tips for everyday tasks, and fun activities that stimulate the body and mind. It also offers guides to cope with behaviors that might be shocking for new caregivers such as aggression or hallucination.