There’s just about an app for everything… in fact, as of May 2017, there were 2.2 million available apps just in the Apple App Store. Fortunately, the surge in apps has not bypassed the caregiver and eldercare industry. According to a New York Times article (2013), caregivers are “early adopters” when it comes to using apps and online tools. The Pew Internet Project, which tracks online trends, found that primary caregivers aged 50 to 64 increased their use of mobile apps and social networking sites by 454 percent from 2008 to 2012! With all the sophisticated apps that are available to make a caregiver’s life easier and more manageable, you can’t blame them. Caregiver apps and online tools have advanced features that allow for easy sharing of information, scanning and uploading of documents and more. All of the following are available for iOS and Android devices on the Apple App Store or Google Play.
Art in the Moment is a 2016 winner of the Jewish Programming Award from the Association of Jewish Aging Services. Based on The Museum of Modern Art’s Alzheimer’s Project (Meet Me at MoMA), Art in the Moment is a unique CJE program designed specifically for use by older adults with early to midstage dementia and their caregivers. It’s intended to spark creative dialogue and nurture positive interactions between them. In this tablet-only app, works of art from the Art Institute of Chicago’s collection are arranged by themes, or modules, such as “Celebrations.” Users then “flip” through the module and explore how various celebrations have been depicted in art—from elaborate festivities to public gatherings to spontaneous, private celebrations—and are reminded of the many opportunities we have to applaud life as we live it. The act of observing, talking about and creating art is an alternative way for older adults with dementia to communicate and reflect on their life experiences, and to be actively and fully en aged in the present moment with loved ones and caregivers. The modules stimulate users’ minds through posed questions and even encourage users to engage in related art-making. A desktop version can be found at ArtInTheMoment.org.
THESE THREE APPS AND ONLINE TOOLS WERE RECOMMENDED ON AARP’S WEBSITE:
This app is great for managing your overall caregiving duties, such as keeping track of friends, family healthcare recordkeeping and scheduling with a shareable calendar.
Key features include a medication list and reminders; Access Pharmacy (with free pill packaging and auto refills); a health information tracker for weight, mood, sleep, pain, blood pressure and blood glucose; a journal for significant events, issues, appointments; important doctor contacts, providers and team members; photos and files, such as doctors lists, insurance cards and advanced directives; and a sharing function lets you invite others to share for coordination or in emergency.
Not an app, CaringBridge is an online tool that lets you create a website and invite family and friends to join it. It is more like an online space where you can connect, share and receive support for any health condition, big or small, acute or long term, for as long as needed. CaringBridge provides a personal, protected website where you can post health updates. It is recommended for larger groups so that people are able to stay connected and leave words of hope and encouragement.
Key features include a privacy feature that lets you choose if visitors must log in and if they must be invited onto the site; a journal to post updates and photos; a planner/calendar with a tasks feature that lets you share key dates and get people to volunteer or assist; and a fundraising capability that allows you raise money for healthcare (like crowdfunding).
Lotsa Helping Hands
Another web tool for creating a care community to help you maintain connections with family and friends by sharing news and coordinating assistance.
Key features: A help calendar to schedule volunteering for activities like meal prep or rides with the ability to send and receive reminders; announcements with notes and photos; and “Well Wishes,” a place where users can express their love and support.
SOME ADDITIONAL APPS:
Alzheimer’s Caregiver Buddy
This app was developed by the Alzheimer’s Association to help caregivers manage their personal stress, navigate family conflict and reach a 24/7 helpline.
It features daily care tips for tasks related to hygiene and meal times and fun activities for stimulating the body and mind. It also covers how to cope with unexpected and overwhelming behaviors like hallucination or aggression.
Elder 411 and the Elder 911 apps below were developed by a geriatric physician.
Elder 411 has practical information for caregivers, from home safety to communication tips. It has over 500 pieces of advice organized into 11 topics to help you make the right eldercare decisions.
Elder 911 is a step-by-step guide to dealing with an elder emergency. It helps you and your loved one navigate the complexities of transfer trauma, planning hospital discharge and more.
While there are many, many apps and online tools available for keeping track of medications and monitoring heart rate, meditating and more, the above are devoted specifically to caregiving. With their specialized focus on caregiver needs, they’ve come a long way in increasing efficiency, eliminating redundancies and errors and increasing communication among loved ones. Used wisely, these timesaving tools might allow time for relaxing visits and conversations—time that might otherwise be wasted on frantic searches for papers or medication instructions.