Overcoming the Caregiver Challenges of Using Technology

Sherry Christiansen
By Sherry ChristiansenAugust 21, 2019
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The number of family caregivers in the United States continues to grow exponentially with the rise of those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia.  In fact, according to AARP’s “Caregiving in the U.S.” report, dementia is considered one of the top three conditions that result in the need for a caregiver.

As the need for caregivers rises, so too does the necessity to find ways to make the job easier. Learn more about how caregivers can overcome these caregiver challenges by using these six technological devices.

Caregiver Challenges

Although a large percentage of family caregivers show an interest in using technology to help with caregiving tasks, only 7% are actually using technological devices that can help, according to AARP’s Project Catalyst Research.

Here are the reasons that caregivers gave for not using technology:

  • Concerns about the affordability of technology
  • Concerns about the use of technology (such as finding time to set up apps and learn how to use them)
  • Not believing that technology is better than traditional care
  • Not having a clear understanding of which technology works best

According to Dr. Susan Reinhard, Director of the AARP Public Policy Institute, “We’re facing a caregiving cliff.” Dr. Reinhard is working on promoting public awareness of the impending caregiving crisis, by educating people about the projected increase in the number of those who will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia in the near future.

Thankfully, caregiver technology is continuing to expand and there are more and more useful technological devices available to help caregivers meet the demands of caring for a parent or senior loved one. The real challenge may be, however, getting caregivers on board to use this technology.

6 Technological Devices That Can Improve Caregiving

There are many types of technology that can help caregivers, including:

1. Automated patient engagement technology.

There are many online platforms available that help caregivers communicate with other family members, keep track of health information, schedule appointments, and more. These systems were designed specifically with family caregivers in mind. The information is easy to input and can be shared with everyone who is involved in planning and care, in an instant. When a care recipient needs a prescription refilled, or when changes are made in the daily medication administration regime, that important information can be available for everyone who needs to stay abreast of their loved one’s ongoing needs. These systems not only save time, but they also provide peace of mind for the entire family, even those who are participating in long-distance caregiving; no one feels they are left out of the loop!

2. Cameras.

Wireless cameras can enable caregivers to track their loved one, to identify how they are caring for themselves when no one else is around. This can help caregivers get a better idea of when more intensive help (such as 24-hour care) is needed. Cameras can also provide peace of mind when the primary caregiver is taking some much-needed time off.

3. Emergency response services (ERS).

For seniors who live alone, help is more accessible than ever before with ERS technology. The system automatically alerts local emergency responders when a senior falls down, gets injured, or has an emergency health condition (such as a heart attack). Some newer devices have even implemented fall prevention protocols (such as an airbag that goes off to reduce the impact of a fall).

4. GPS.

GPS can help if a loved one with Alzheimer’s (or other memory problems) wanders and gets lost. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “More than 60% of those with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia will wander.” The GPS trackers can be placed on clothing, handbags, and shoes. The system can help caregivers and family members locate their loved one and get him/her home safe before accidents or injuries can occur.

5. The internet.

The internet has literally revolutionized the medical field, making available services such as remote monitoring of patients, online access to medical records, educational programs on diet, exercise, medications, and more. Caregivers and their loved ones can get assistance with the management of medication schedules, online support groups, vital signs, and much more.

6. Phone apps.

There are numerous apps available to help caregivers and their loved ones. Caregivers can monitor their loved one’s location, medication regime, and more. Phone apps can also provide education and entertainment with online books, movies, music, and more. There are even apps with automated voices that can remind seniors when to eat, take their medicine, and other self-care duties.

What caregiver challenges have you confronted? What other technology do you use that you would add to this list? We’d like to hear your suggestions in the comments below.

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Sherry Christiansen
Sherry Christiansen