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Tech Support for Caregivers

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Caregiving in this century is not just handholding; it combines the latest technologies with caring to allow virtually anyone to be virtually anywhere they are needed.  As a geriatric care manager I often am in the role of the “person who knows resources” that caregivers and their loved ones can rely upon. 

A new study produced by a partnership between the National Alliance for Caregiving and United Healthcare offers results of a nation-wide online survey of caregivers who are leveraging their caregiving with web-based and mobile technologies.  The survey was based on the responses of 1000 Caregivers at least 18 years of age, who provided at least five hours of unpaid care to an adult relative or friend and had already used some form of technology to assist them in their caregiving.  To see the full report, please go to The e-Connected Family Caregiver: Bringing Caregiving into the 12st Century.    Here are just a few of what I think are their insights for modern caregiving.

The survey asked these people to rate how helpful they found each of twelve different technologies to be.  You may get some ideas for your own needs from their answers.  The three “most helpful technologies” included:

  • Health record tracking that would help the caregiver to follow their loved one’s history, current status and other metrics even if they cannot be at all appointments;
  • Shared electronic calendars to allow everyone to track a loved one’s doctor appointments and other needs;
  • Electronic reminder systems to help the loved one stay on schedule with medications as well as actually dispense the pills.

Although the most common challenge to using these and other technologies was their real or perceived cost, the greatest benefits caregivers see for themselves and their loved ones are, in order:

  • Saving time,
  • Managing logistics more easily,
  • Enhancing safety for their loved ones,
  • Increasing the effectiveness of the caregiver, and
  • Reducing the stress that a lot of caregivers feel.

So, what beyond cost stands in the way of caregivers embracing these new technologies and others?  Most caregivers want to be told about technologies from a trusted source like their physician before they will buy it.  Or they want to actually have someone walk them through how the technology works. 

One of the clear themes to emerge beyond the value of technology is the basic fact that almost all caregivers already use technology in the form of Internet access.  So, check out the National Alliance for Caregiving website as well as two other medical sites that survey respondents endorsed as trustworthy:

WebMD  and The Mayo Clinic.  Participants in the survey also gave high marks to the Medicare web site and the Administration on Aging web site.

Charlotte Bishop is a Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Case Management, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families throughout metropolitan Chicago. Please email your questions to Charlotte Bishop.

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