Two-fifths of U.S. adults care for a sick or elderly family
member, according to a 2012 Pew Research Center study. The same study also
found that family caregivers are more technologically savvy than the general
population: Ninety percent of family caregivers have a cell phone, compared with
82 percent of non-caregivers. These early adopters are using the Internet to
assist with their responsibilities, connect with other caregivers, research
health information, and look up information about long term care options.
To stay on top of everything, many caregivers—personal and
professional—are turning to apps on their smartphones. Below is a sampling of
several top apps in the field.
- Simplified Medication Management: Take pictures
of medications (prescriptions, OTC, and supplements) and the names, dosages,
and other details are automatically added. Reminders are sent when it’s time to
take a med, or refill a prescription. Adherence can be tracked by recording
when doses were taken. The med list can be shared with the doctor via email.
- Journal: Document symptoms and privately share
updates with family members.
- Calendar: Keep track of appointments and
share access with others.
- Contacts: Organize and share info for
doctors, pharmacies, and insurance providers.
Store insurance info, online account credentials, and other
- To-dos: Keep a synchronized list of things
that need to get done and assign tasks to others.
- Photos & Files: Store important
documents for easy access when you need them.
- News: Receive helpful, timely info and tips on
relevant health topics.
- Sharing: Safely share access with others in case
of an emergency, or to coordinate care for a loved one.
CareZone can be downloaded for free on iTunes (for iPhone
and iPad) or Google Play Store (for Android).
Screenshots. Credit: www.CareZone.com
The new kid on the block (it became available two weeks
ago), the Care/Mind app by Reassure Analytics (www.reassureanalytics.com) is Fitbit-compatible,
according to Hanson Chang, chief executive officer and co-founder. It is the
first app to provide status and alerts (for example, heart rate, sleep
duration, step number) for others who are wearing the activity tracking device.
“I am using it on my grandmother and mom,” Chang says. “It
gives great peace of mind.”
As an example of the app’s usage, Chang’s grandmother
typically walks between 4:00 and 6:00 p.m. He has set the app to alert him if
she has not done 1,000 steps at a time.
The special feature can also be used for those
rehabilitating from knee or hip replacement or cardiac surgeries, as daily
activity is an important element in the recovery process. Additionally, those
with mental illnesses such as depression can use it to help keep active and
monitor their sleeping patterns that can get altered from antidepressant
According to Chang, Fitbit is the largest wearable, covering
70 percent of the market shares, yet only about 12 percent are people over the
age of 55. “A lot of digital health is found on devices for the young. I wanted
to do something for senior health,” he says.
A rather apt quotation is found in Chang’s email signature:
“Paying it forward is noble, paying it back to those that brought us through
this world is a loving duty.”
Care/Mind can be downloaded for free on iTunes (for iPhone).
Care/Mind Screenshots. Credit:www.reassureanalytics.com
The GreatCall LinkTM app (www.greatcall.com/services-apps/link)
gives family caregivers peace of mind by providing both critical information in
an urgent situation and snapshots of normal daily activities. Friends and
family who download the Link app to their smartphone receive alerts when the
user of a GreatCall device contacts a highly trained 5Star agent in an
emergency, including the date, time of call, and type of help provided. In
addition, the app provides information on daily events such as when the user of
the GreatCall devices leaves or arrives at home or other known locations, power
and battery status of the device, and a list of activities to ensure that daily
routines are normal and the device is charged and in use.
“Our research with family caregivers has shown that they
wish they had better information about what was really going on when they
weren’t with their family member, and that they would like to have someone
there for them when they can’t be,” says Krijn van der Raadt, vice president of
IT Software Development at GreatCall. “The Link app provides that information
regularly, allowing family caregivers to feel confident that their family
member is safe and well.”
The app can be downloaded for free on iTunes (for iPhone) or
Google Play Store (for Android). A smartphone that contains the app can be purchased
on the website, starting from $50-$150, plus monthly plan and activation fees.
GreatCall LinkTM Screenshots. Credit: www.greatcall.com/services-apps/link
Created by the National Alzheimer Center, a division of the
Hebrew home at Riverdale in New York City, Balance is designed specifically for
Alzheimer’s caregivers. (Of the 43.5 million adult family caregivers that care
for someone 50+ years of age, 14.9
million—about one in three—care for someone who has Alzheimer’s disease or
other dementia, according to data from the Alzheimer’s Association.)
The app enables caregivers to coordinate care among multiple
caregivers in real time. Users log yes/no answers regarding common emotional
and behavioral symptoms, the results of which can be emailed to doctors to
coordinate care and medications. Also included is the latest research
information about Alzheimer’s.
David Pomeranz, the app creator and executive vice president
at the Hebrew Home at Riverdale, designed the app when his mother contracted
the disease. His family members in other cities wanted to be involved in her
care, and this app became a way for them, as well as all the caregivers, to be
in the know.
- Family: Communicate messages and important updates
to family members with the chat feature.
- RSS Feed: Get the latest Alzheimer’s and
caregiving news and information.
- Caregiving: Get essential caregiving tips—from
how to handle agitation to bathing and hygiene suggestions.
- Pill Box: Manage medications among multiple
- Doctor Diary: No need to wait for a doctor
appointment –notify the doctor of any behavior or mood changes immediately.
- NAC Store: Purchase vital products for the Alzheimer’s
patient and caregiver.
Balance is available on iTunes (for iPhone and iPad use
only) and is a bargain at $0.99.
Balance Screenshots. Credit:National
Alzheimer Center/Hebrew Home at Riverdale