7 Ways You Can Use Technology to Care for Aging Parents (Even When They Hate Smartphones)
When you start exploring all of the different ways that technology can aid you in your caregiving, you’ll find that physical distance doesn’t present the same challenges it once did.
Staying in touch
Talking by phone is great, but it’s not the same as being able to see your parent. Thanks to Skype, FaceTime, and other video chat platforms, with a camera phone or webcam, you can feel like you’re sitting across from your parents in the living room. They’ll also enjoy seeing the grandkids, the family pet, or other relatives and friends who stop in to say hello. (Make sure you share these 50 tricks to stop feeling lonely with your parents, too.) Not only will these video connections allow you to feel closer—less disconnected, if you will—but you can also look for visual cues as to your parent’s well-being. The key is convincing them to adapt to these technologies along with you. You might have to invest some time into teaching him or her how to operate an iPad or a smart phone, for example, but the effort is well worth it. Share these hilarious cartoons for technophobes to lighten the mood during your lessons.
Researching care options
Imagine a scenario in which your aging parent requires care or housing, and you live out of state and are unable to travel to tour local facilities or make arrangements. This is the reality for many adult children, especially those who have their own families to take care of or can’t get time off of work. Luckily, there are more resources online than ever before for researching and connecting with senior communities and care providers, so at least the initial part of your research can be done remotely. During your research, you should also look out for these signs your parents’ doctor is trustworthy.
Touching base with a caregiver
Even if you can’t be there for your parents, you can still keep tabs on how the caregiver is doing. For instance, the app Honor will tell you when the caregiver arrives and leaves, plus leave a message saying how the visit went. Make sure to ask your parents’ caretaker to watch out for these signs of bed sores.
Connecting with the caregiving community
Being a caregiver can be hard at times. There are many moments in which you might need advice or support, or simply to commiserate with others who are going through a similar situation with their senior parents. That’s why many are turning to blogs, online communities, and social media to connect, whether it’s via a Twitter chat session (like the bi-monthly #ElderCareChat), or reaching out to Facebook friends. You’ll be thankful you had somewhere to turn for advice like how to connect with a loved one who has Alzheimer’s.
Staying in touch when you can’t talk
Whether you live in your parents’ town or across the country, touching base throughout the day can be tricky. Instead of stressing about how your parents are doing, download an app that keeps you posted, like Carely. The app makes it easy for your parents or their caregiver to send updates throughout the day, plus connect with local organizations that can support your loved one. Just don’t think it’s a substitute for an actual phone or video call—here’s why science shows calling your parents could help them live longer.
Reminding to take pills
As your parents start taking more and more medication, it would be easy for them to forget to take their pills—or forget that they already took them. A standard pillbox is fine, but new technology makes it even easier. Apps like Medisafe has an easy interface for reminding your parents to take their medication, and let them know when to refill or when discounts pop up. Plus, you can even link your own phone up to make sure your parents are following through. If your parents aren’t big on smartphone apps, consider investing in an e-pill product. The company makes pill boxes and dispensers that can remind your loved ones to take their pills, and even alert you if they missed a medication. If your parents seem to be on too many pills, find out how to tell if they’re taking too many prescriptions.
Help their hearing
A smartphone won’t do much good if your parents can barely hear what you’re saying. Enter Halo by Starkey Hearing Technologies. These cool hearing aids link up with an Apple or Android device—including a tablet if your parents prefer the larger screen—to help you hear. So now your parents can call you or even listen to music without the frustration of a quiet sound. USA Today reports the Halo hearing aids cost upwards of $1,000, so see if your parents’ health insurance will cover any of the cost. And to protect your hearing for the future, make sure both you and your parents stay away from these sneaky causes of hearing loss.