When it comes to caring for an aging parent or spouse, many want to help their loved one stay independent as long as possible.
Nearly 90 percent of people over 65 want to stay at home as long as they are able, according to a research report by the National Conference of State Legislatures and the AARP Public Policy Institute.
Technology makes it easier for people to do that. There are a slew of apps and services allowing people to schedule care for their aging parents, track their health and monitor symptoms.
Here’s a look at four ways tech is helping you take care of mom and dad:
From adults who need around-the-clock care to those who just need help with daily activities like cooking or getting to appointments, homecare company Honor matches seniors with caregivers who fit their physical and medical needs as well as personality. Clients use an app to fill out information on their loved ones and are then matched with a caregiver.
So, a client who weighs 200 pounds, has dementia and has two cats, would be paired with a caregiver who can sustain that weight, is specialized in dementia and is not allergic to cats, Sternberg said.
“If someone has cancer, dementia or Parkinson’s disease we match them with a care provider who is trained in working with their particular disease,” Honor’s co-founder and CEO Seth Sternberg said. “And then let’s match for allergies, for physical movement and weight, and then you get to the truly subtle that gets into personality, so trying to find a great match with someone.”
Those receiving care can rate caregivers through the app and schedule visits, while concerned children or loved ones can receive notes or text messages from the caregiver after each visit. The caregiver also uses the app to track the client’s overall wellness, to establish how the client’s health is trending overtime.
The service is available in California, parts of Texas and soon in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The screening process to become an Honor care pro is rigorous, with only around 5 percent of those that apply being accepted, according to Sternberg.
AARP’s CAREGIVERS IN THE COMMUNITY (CINC) MOBILE APP:
About 40 million people provide care for a family member, and many want to communicate with others who are in similar situations, according to Jody Holtzman, SVP of market innovation at AARP.
“There is just an incredible emotional, financial, and time burden to do what they do,” Holtzman said. “Some of them are full-time and many of them are part-time.”
AARP’s CINC app matches users with other caregivers who are going through similar situations with their aging parents or spouse. The app allows people to connect and share advice with other caregivers through in-app messaging, photo or video calls.
The app features various resources for caregivers ranging from financial support tips to dealing with the emotional stress of taking care of a loved one.
He said AARP’s constituency is both caregivers and the recipients of that care. The app, which is available in the Apple app store and Android Google Play store, allows people to find support for any situation that might arise while caring for their loved one from diagnosis of a disease to managing care from a distance.
“People want to know how do they deal with that initial diagnosis the emotional impact of what happened, but don’t want to talk to experts they want to talk to other people,” he said.
AARP also has a Caregiving app, which is available for free in the Apple iTunes store. The app is a one-stop shop for caregivers who need to manage medications, insurance and photo ID images, and keep up-to-date lists of emergency contacts. The app makes it easy to share information about doctors appointments and medication times with family and other caregivers.
He notes that the primary goal of many of these apps is to ensure that people can age independently if they are able.
“It’s really about independent living and all of these different tools and people enabling that for care recipients, it’s important to realize for these folks part of the solution for independent living is health-related, but other parts of it are simply to stay connected to family friends neighbors, the community to be involved to be active,” Holtzman said.
People looking for temporary or 24/7 care for a loved one can use Care.com or download the app to find caregivers specializing in everything from dementia to personal care.
“It’s a really quick and easy process and depends on what the family is looking for,” according to Jody Gastfriend, Care.com’s Vice President of Senior Care Services. “You can set up a profile, post a job or scan different caregivers on the site.”
Care.com has a safety team that checks information about caregivers against various databases, and also allows families to purchase background checks for more in-depth information on caregivers, according to Gastfriend.
Users can message with potential caregivers, and once they hire someone can pay through the payroll management system on the app or online.
Care.com has resources for those who are new to the process of interviewing and hiring caregivers, as well as tips on how much care a loved one actually needs.
“Technology doesn’t replace human connection but can significantly augment it and enables families to have eyes and ears into the homes of their loved ones through apps or online resources,” Gastfriend said.
When it comes to providing care for seniors and those living with dementia and Alzheimer’s, families aren’t always close by to help with care and coordinating information about medications or doctors appointments can be a struggle, according to Beth Kallmyer vice president of Alzheimer’s Association constituent services.
Free caregiving app CareZone allows family members and caregivers to manage prescriptions, doctors appointments and general care for loved ones. The app also features access to Alzheimer’s Association resources and users can easily access the Alzheimer’s Association 24/7 helpline, Kallmyer said.
“The app allows families to connect and share information,” Kallmyer said. “It also has a great feature that helps people manage medications, which is a great challenge that families face when people are older, and they are on a lot of medications.”
Users can take a picture of a prescription with their cell phone, and everything is uploaded into the app, which can then be shared privately with a spouse or loved one who may need access to the information.
To get the Alzheimer’s Association content, you must download the CareZone app here or text “ALZ” to 301-900-5050.
Mary Bowerman, USA TODAY Network