Using technology to help caring for aging parents
Elizz is pleased to partner with RBC Ventures on this article, and we jointly encourage our family caregiver readers to download RBC Ventures’ newly launched FREE care coordination app, CareEasy
As a caregiver, do you use technology in your daily life? Ok, that’s a rhetorical question. Almost everyone uses some form of technology in their daily life. The more important question is: Do you use technology to help with caregiving tasks and activities? Read on to learn more on how technology can help meet caregivers’ top goals.
Technology and caregiving
It is cliché to say that the world is changing quickly when it comes to technology and its impact on our lives. Why would this not include caregiving? Why shouldn’t it include caregiving?
Interestingly, one study has shown that caregivers’ interest in using technology is high (as high as a reported 71%), but only 7% reported using it to assist with their caregiving activities. As one might expect, young caregivers (18 to 49) use technology twice as much as caregivers 50 years of age and older.
Barriers to adoption
What are the barriers to adoption? Caregivers have flagged lack of awareness, cost and the time it takes to find and learn about new technologies. This is completely understandable given that time and energy are precious commodities for caregivers.
In response to the Google inquiry ‘Is there an app for caregivers?’, there are 27 million results. Talk about an internet rabbit hole! While these results are good news, in terms of the sheer volume of technologies that can support caregivers, figuring out the best options can be time-consuming and frustrating.
Finding the balance between “tech and touch”
This is not about the adoption of technology for technology’s sake. It is also worth stating outright that technology is not about replacing human touch. It is about supporting caregivers with their caregiving tasks and responsibilities, and this can reduce stress, anxiety, worry and potentially give back some time to caregivers.
The best technology is that which makes a meaningful difference for them and the people being cared for. This is crucial because introducing new technology and tools can be stressful for both the caregiver and the person being cared for. The question which emerges, then, is ‘What does make a difference for caregivers? What are caregivers’ goals?’
Recent research has focused on caregivers’ goals (as opposed to their needs).
Family caregivers want to be able to meet the demands of caregiving without sacrificing their own health, well-being and quality of life. This has been referred to as resilience. This is also about having the long view of the caregiving journey – being able to continue without distress and burnout (sustainability). More simply, it has been described as caregivers’ right to “have a life”. Could there be a more reasonable goal?
How can technology help? Care coordination technologies can help with communication, care planning and keeping and managing records. A recent study found that 7 of 10 caregivers used technology to coordinate care. At Elizz.com, we are always researching different technology solutions for family caregivers and we can enthusiastically promote the CareEasy app. It’s worth describing the features and what we like about them.
- Transparency about the costs of caregiving.
- Too often, there isn’t transparency in the family about the money being spent to assist older parents. This can lead to resentments, and a lost opportunity to have the costs shared more equally among family members. With this app, receipts can be uploaded which ensures full transparency.
- Family members can share updates, including uploading photos.
- There is a ‘notes’ feature for updates to be provided. This obviously helps with communication amongst family members, and it is an avenue for all members to be engaged with the caregiving, especially valuable for long distance caregivers.
- Caregiving errands/tasks can be tracked.
- This can help family members determine with a division of labour-who is going to do what-and ensure that important tasks don’t get missed. The organization of care, from juggling their own schedules to communicating and delegating to others has been flagged by caregivers as a significant challenge and this app meets this challenge head on.
The COVID-19 pandemic propelled greater use of technology and virtual services and care out of necessity. Its adoption will likely outlive this pandemic!
Learn more about the FREE CareEasy app or download the app in the App Store or Google Play store.