Best Digital Tools for Helping Family Caregivers

We use digital tools to organize our lives, and as a caregiver there are resources made just for you. Whether you’re looking for tools that can help you keep in touch with your loved one, organize family members to help care for them, or monitor their health or safety, there’s an app for that! Using digital tools can help you feel more secure that you’re on top of the many responsibilities that caretaking requires. It can also helps you engage other family members in caring for your aging loved one, and help you stay in touch with their health care providers. Try out some of these tools to find which ones work best for you and your family.

Staying in touch

Caretaking often looks like constant communication: keeping in touch with doctors, therapists, specialists, family and friends, and others can take up a lot of time and energy. Video technology (Skype, FaceTime, or Zoom, for example, all of which have a free edition) makes it easier for family members, friends, and others to see each other and connect. If your family members are far away, try video chatting with your elderly loved ones for a more personal interaction. This can also help far away family members keep better tabs on the physical and cognitive health of an aging loved one.

If your loved one is in poor health or hospitalized, family and friends will want regular updates on their wellbeing. Caring Bridge is a free tool that provides you with a website dedicated to your loved one. You can post updates, pictures, and requests or restrictions on visiting. The site will ask visitors to log in, so
you can control who can view and access the information on the site.

Medication scheduling and reminders

Most of our clients have a medication regimen, and most of our clients’ families want reassurance that their loved ones are taking their medication at the right time, in the right dose, in the right way. Medication management can be a tough task for anyone who doesn’t have formal medical training, and that includes your aging loved one. There are several apps that can help with medication reminders, giving you peace of mind that dosages important to the health and wellbeing of your loved one won’t be missed.

  • MedCoach costs $4/month (with discounts for seniors who use Jitterbug mobile services). You can set up custom reminders for the right time of day using their website. This service can also connect you with your local pharmacy and give you reminders for prescription refills.
  • PillPack is a more comprehensive service and includes refills, home delivery, and a reminder service for all prescription medications. PillPack will work with your insurance service to determine what free services you’re eligible for, and to make sure that all your needed medications can be ordered through the service. Each dosage they ship for you is labeled with the date and time it must be taken.
  • Sagely provides a pill reminder app that organizes each prescription and the appropriate time and frequency to take it. Sagely also sells a Weekly Pill Organizer tool ($34.95) that color-codes morning versus afternoon dosages, and rests seven pill compartments onto a magnetized base for easy use.

Organizing care for your loved one

Whether you’re a primary caregiver for a family member or part of the network that supports an aging loved one, it’s important to have multiple supporters for you and your loved one who can take part in providing care.

The Care Calendar by Lotsa Helping Hands can help keep your network on the same page. You can create a community that will share the calendar with you, which can include your family members, in-home care provider, and anyone who helps care for your aging loved one. You can schedule tasks (“pay utility bills”) or events (“take Mom to doctor’s appointment”) and invite specific people to each task or event. Use this tool to help you delegate specific care needs that you and your family have.

Accidents in the home

Trips and falls are common accidents for seniors that can have devastating consequences. Your family might like a wearable product like Lively that connects to a smart phone to help alert a family member when an accident has happened. You can also investigate personal emergency response systems like Medical Guardian. These are designed to connect the user with an emergency operator, who can dispatch first responders or whatever resource is needed. Your senior family member will need to wear the device, and you’ll pay a monthly subscription for the service.

Finding support

Don’t forget that, as a caregiver, you need help too! Online support forums have grown in popularity and usage as more families look for resources and community to help with aging loved ones.

  • CareGiving offers a specific social platform for folks who provide care to aging family members and want to share stories, tips, and advice.
  • You can also find many communities on Facebook, such as Caregivers Connect and Caregivers and the Elder Care Community. You’ll need to have a Facebook profile to join these communities, and then requesting access to the community is just a click away.
  • If you use Twitter, you can find others chatting about these topics by following #ElderCareChat or #CareChat.
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