We know that digital technology is revolutionizing elder care. Today, it’s easier than ever for adult children to stay in touch with their senior loved ones and keep abreast of changes in their health.
Here at Marjorie Pl. Lee Retirement Community, we get asked all the time which mobile apps are the most helpful for families whose senior members are aging in place. Which programs will give you and your older parent peace of mind?
Here are some of our recommendations.
You’ll pardon us for touting this one first — we did, after all, have a hand in designing and testing this app.
How’s Mom is a customizable health information sharing app for family caregivers of seniors who are either in residential nursing care, receiving regular in-home care, or who are in the hospital. It allows nurses and patient care assistants to provide real-time status updates to a senior’s family members, via a shared network of contacts.
When a health care provider has new information about changes in a senior’s health or just wants to provide a general notification about a senior’s condition, he or she can add updates directly to the app, so that family members who are connected in the application can see how their relative is doing.
How’s Mom then sends out a push notification to all the authorized members of a senior’s caregiving network, according to each individual’s notification preferences. In this way, families always know up to the minute what’s going on with their loved one, without necessitating a series of phone calls, texts, or emails.
CareZone helps family caregivers manage their daily responsibilities and keep records of an elder’s health and well-being. It features a shareable calendar that allows family members to closely coordinate their caregiving schedules and spread out the workload.
Caregivers can create a list of their senior loved one’s medications simply by photographing their prescription labels. This prescription list feature also has a built-in medication minder, which caregivers can set to remind them to administer a loved one’s prescriptions, or to call and make sure that their loved one has taken his or her medicine on time.
The app even allows users to scan and upload legal documentation, including a loved one’s health power of attorney form and living will, right to their phones, so they’re never caught in the emergency room or at the hospital without the proper proof of authority to make a critical health decision on their senior loved one’s behalf.
CareZone also includes a health journal feature. Family members can log their older loved one’s vital stats, weight, mood, blood sugar readings, reported pain levels and more, and use that log to track an elder’s health changes over time.
Why is that so important for caregivers to do? As any primary care doctor or geriatrician will tell you, health trend information can be critically important for a correct diagnosis, but it’s often the most difficult information to get, because most families don’t keep good records of their senior loved ones’ day-to-day health metrics.
Created specifically with caregivers of seniors with Alzheimer’s or other dementia disorders in mind, Balance, like CareZone, allows multiple family members to coordinate the care they provide via a shared chat feature and, like How’s Mom, to update each other on their loved one’s status.
It can also help caregivers and doctors share information necessary for tailoring memory care to an elder’s unique needs.
Users log yes or no answers to simple, app-generated questions pertaining to common emotional and behavioral symptoms, the results of which can be emailed to doctors to immediately modify the care regimen and tweak medications as needed.
Balance gives users access to an RSS feed that features the latest Alzheimer’s and caregiving news and information. It also provides relevant, valuable tips, from how to handle agitation, to suggestions about bathing and hygiene assistance.
Are you a family caregiver? Download these apps to help keep your loved one safe.
The best thing your family can do for your older loved one is to stay in touch and stay informed.
Update each other frequently on your aging parent or grandparent’s health. Divvy up caregiving responsibilities to keep everyone in the loop and diffuse the burden of care.
Remember, your loved one is relying on you to keep him or her living well. These apps, and others like them, can help you do so.