Tech Tools Empower Family Caregivers to Do Less

One doesn’t need to ask too many questions before hitting at the heart of a person’s personal connection with caregiving. In fact, it happens to me on a daily basis as I talk with individuals about what I do and the organization I work for. You see, I am the CEO of a local nonprofit called Senior Community Services. Our mission is to develop, coordinate and provide services that help meet the needs of older adults and support their caregivers. My work certainly does make for an easy segue into the caregiver conversation, but don’t let that stop you! Everyone has a caregiver story.

As first lady Rosalynn Carter once said, “There are only four kinds of people in the world – those who have been caregivers, those who are caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.”

According to the National Alliance for Caregiving and Evercare, family caregivers are the foundation of long-term care nationwide, exceeding Medicaid long-term care spending in all states, but caregiving is hard work. The average number of hours family caregivers spend caring for their loved ones is 20 hours per week and 60% of family caregivers are balancing those duties while still employed. It’s no surprise that 40-70% of family caregivers have clinically significant symptoms of depression. Thankfully, there are numerous technologies out there that can make family caregivers jobs a lot easier and much less stressful.

You can find one of those tools right here at Senior Community Services, www.CareNextion.org. CareNextion is a free, easy-to-use website allowing your family members and other care groups to easily communicate, share schedules and find assistance for your loved ones. This tool enables you to bring together the support needed to help your loved one live a vital and engaging life, while also sharing some of the responsibilities with other members of your loved ones care circle. CareNextion helps family caregivers in a variety of ways.

Because it’s an online tool, CareNextion allows you to keep family and friends near and far in the loop. It saves you time and energy by allowing you to share tasks such as rides to the doctor, meals, visits, etc. with your care team without having to play phone tag. You simply send out one request that gets pushed out in an email to everyone on your care team. From there, any of the recipients may pick up the task right from the email request, which will then display as a filled request for everyone else. CareNextion also aids with creating more organized and clear communication with its shared calendar and journal features. Journal records can easily be printed so they can be shared at doctors’ appointments as well. CareNextion is also equipped with a vetted list of trusted organizations that can provide a variety of services for your loved one. In addition to all these online tools, CareNextion gives family caregivers twenty-four-seven access to an experienced, licensed social worker.

Another great technology that is just hitting the market is Assured Living by Best Buy. Assured Living is a variety of non-intrusive, in-home sensors for older adults that provide insight for family caregivers into their loved ones daily activities, such as movement and sleep patterns. Over time, the sensors will begin to pick up activity trends and notify you, as a trusted family caregiver, if something changes.

Assured living can provide wellness insights by using the data to discover patterns in your loved ones activities, which allows you to have more informed conversations with your loved ones. You can learn if they are locking doors, going to the fridge or medicine cabinet at the appropriate times and much more. A variety of sensors make it possible for Assured Living packages to be highly customized to you and your older adults wants and needs. You, as the caregiver, also have the power to customize which notifications about your loved one are most important.

The beauty of Assured Living is that it not only gives you peace of mind, but also allows your loved one to maintain their independence. Voice automation makes daily tasks such as turning on and off lights, locking doors and changing the temperature a breeze and automatic reminders take the worry out of remembering important tasks such as taking medication. Your loved one will enjoy the independence and privacy they deserve, while you get the peace of mind knowing that they’re okay.

The combination of these two powerful caregiving tools will give you the ability to stop unnecessary worrying, reduce stress, and share the caregiving responsibilities with others.

If you’re reading this article and you’re not a family caregiver at the moment, I invite you to do a little digging and find someone in your circle who is a family caregiver. You won’t have to go very far, I promise. You might be giving them just the support they need at just the right time.

If you are reaching this article and would like to learn more about either of the aforementioned tools, give us a call at 952-541-1019.

Deb Taylor is the CEO of Senior Community Services and its Reimagine Aging Institute, a nonprofit that helps older adults and caregivers navigate aging to maintain independence and quality of life. We provide a wide array of programs — www.seniorcommunity.org