More and more family caregivers are finding their smartphones and tablets to be useful tools in their caregiving.
They are finding that the available technology is making their life a little easier, engaging their senior loved one or giving them much needed information or even support.
Yes, there ARE apps for that!
With all the newest ideas coming along, it can be hard to keep up with what could be beneficial for you and your senior loved one.
We have pulled together some of the those things that we find helpful and think that you might also enjoy for your senior loved one and yourself to care for them.
Essential Tech Devices
You probably have most of the devices that could be really useful for you as a family caregiver but are you making the most of them?
You are making calls with your smartphone but are you downloading helpful apps, using cloud storage for safe record keeping, scheduling appointments and getting reminders to stay on time, share photos, talk face to face, send messages and updates to family members, keep medication lists and advance directives for emergency use, and the list goes on and on.
Because smartphones connect to the internet, you can access information and even shop from your phone. Whether it runs on iOS, Android or Windows operating systems, you’ll likely find your smartphone will help you handle what you need and have apps that will meet your needs.
You can also use your smartphone to monitor a rapidly growing number of devices for your senior loved ones who live alone. Not only can you see if the front door is unlocked and what temperature the thermostat is set on or if it is on, you can track their vital signs via medical devices and also wearables that confirm their movement according to their established pattern.
If you have a tablet, it can extend the use of your smartphone. Most apps you install on your smartphone will also work on your tablet – across platforms and devices as they say!
Tablets are a great way to store and access data and important information about your senior loved one. They can also entertain your senior (and you) when there is time to pass such as waiting for an appointment. They can access the internet and thereby put any information you seek at your fingertips.
Have you heard about the new RealPad tablet? It is a new device that makes it easy for seniors to connect. It is an Android based tablet that is touted as being ready right out of the box fully loaded with the apps you want. You can also add more later when you find a need. It is available at local discount retailers or through AARP at an affordable price. The icons are larger for older adults to read easily. Naturally it connects to the internet too. It comes with 24 hour tech assistance for those who need more help with its operation.
Are you using an eReader to access the internet? Is it doing enough for you? Can it do more or would you be better off transitioning to a fully functioning tablet?
Are you still tied to a desktop computer or using a laptop computer? Computers can be linked to programs, such as Evernote and Dropbox, that can cross platforms to your smartphones or tablets. This type of computer program can be used to scan important documents, create spreadsheets to help you track important information such as insurance billing, upload photos or to create a journal for your personal documenting of your experiences.
The beauty of this type of program is that you can use all your devices, keep them all updated and access what you need wherever you are.
You can also use your computer to access your senior’s patient portal to get up to the minute health data and medical history record.
Apps to Improve Quality of Life
There are so many apps now it can be hard to sift through them to find the ones that truly provide value rather than just take up your time and screen space.
We have found that most categories of helpful apps include many different options, each with its own set of features. Rather then point you to specific apps in most categories, we want to raise your awareness so you can check them out yourselves.
- Pharmacy – smartphones can be used to scan prescriptions for refills. There are actual dedicated apps or your preferred drugstore has an app that can track your prescriptions, alert you when they are ready for pickup and keep track of your insurance data too. Not only can you refill prescriptions but there are apps that act as medication reminders alerting your senior that it is time for the next dose so medicines won’t be forgotten.
- Books for enjoyment or knowledge – eReaders such as Kindle or Nook allow you to download the latest title or select from free books that can help pass the time or entertain your senior. You can read in large print or regular with an eReader, all with the same book, depending on the need. Using a Kindle app can put your books not only on your eReader but also on your tablet or smartphone so you can pick up your book on whichever device is handy. There are other book sites such as BookShout, Spotify and Audible that make it easy to put the love of reading or music at your fingertips.
- Music – iTunes can be used across platforms to bring your senior her favorite music. You don’t need an MP3 player any more to listen to favorite melodies. Playlists can be created for whatever situation arises: holidays, dining, calming, sleeping or sing-alongs.
- First aid and CPR – this is handy in an emergency. Apps with this information can walk you through helping your senior in the case of cardiac event, choking or basic first aid help. Most allow you to set up health profiles that can be easily accessed in case of emergency.
- GPS locators – apps can help you locate your senior at all times. You can find them quickly if needed or even see where they’ve been.
- TV program guide – you can use an app to locate movies or TV programs that are your senior’s favorites. It will tell you when, what channel and will help you locate programs of interest. It is a real time saver for you when you are seeking to keep your senior loved one entertained.
- Brain stimulation – there are many apps that can help people with dementia to stimulate their brains. There are apps that allow them to be creative, such as finger painting or doodling. Crosswords, math puzzles and trivia questions or just fun games that get their brain engaged are useful and entertaining. There is also a new app that improves cognition by arranging over 50 sequences of Activities of Daily Living, such as brushing your teeth, getting dressed, making a phone call, and making a sandwich. Working on this could improve independence.
- Banking – there are apps that will help you track finances and pay bills. It can help you stick to a budget, link to all bank accounts and send you reminders so you won’t miss a payment. Most are secure and can be disabled if a device is lost.
- Food, Menus and Health information – there are apps that give you recipes of all kinds, help with nutrition and creating menus for the week including shopping lists.
- Keeping in touch – there are apps that will allow you to have a site that keeps all family and close friends connected. It can allow you to add information as needed that will keep everyone in the loop without spending hours on the phone relaying the stories.
- Coordinating care – there are a multitude of apps that will help you keep everything straight. It helps with to do lists, track records, keep appointments, holds contact information and more are giving you access to health professionals so that you can get your questions answered timely.
Don’t forget how invaluable Facetime, Skype or Google Hangouts can be for families to connect face to face. It is especially good from a long distance for family caregivers to actually see for themselves how a senior is doing.
From personal experience we know how exciting it is to see a great grandchild up to toddler hijinks a few states away.
Family caregivers have so many choices from the latest technology that we should be taking advantage of as much of it as possible. It can help us have a better day!