Over time, you have gathered and developed a set of tools you use to help you manage your daily caregiving responsibilities – from calendar and household management to healthcare management and the daily support needed by your loved ones. In recent years, technology has added additional complexity to your caregiving responsibilities with new tools and systems that need to be accessed and privacy regulations that need to be navigated. But, despite some of the pain that has come along with new technologies, it is possible to harness the power of technology to assist you with your caregiving responsibilities with an update of your personal caregiving toolkit!
(1) Family Information Management – With technology increasing the speed of decision making all around us, it is important to have a good system to manage all of your family information so you have access to the information you need – when and where you need it. Most people have a lifetime of paper records stored in files and boxes that are not easy to access in a digital world. An investment in a digital family information management tool like My Data Diary from My Care Companions can help you gather and organize your family information in a format that is comprehensive, simple to use, easy to update, easy to share, secure and affordable (only $30).
(2) Electronic Health Records Management – The investments that healthcare providers have made in electronic health record systems allow you to access to your personal health records at any time through secure, web-based portals. Unfortunately, interoperability challenges across health record systems may result in you having multiple Personal Health Record (PHR) systems for each or your family members. Effective use of electronic Personal Health Record Systems require that you:
- Take the time to set up individual accounts for each family member with each health system
- Gain the necessary HIPAA permissions to access the electronic records for the individuals in your care
- Develop a process to save and consolidate information across multiple tools and systems
Without a doubt, the last item will be the most challenging. Consider using your Family Information Management tool to centralize and save all of the important healthcare information for your family. Or, investigate some of the free web-based tools like Lydia or Follow My Health to consolidate all of your detailed health information in one place. If you opt to use a web-based application, make sure you understand the privacy and security provisions of the site you select.
(3) Smartphone Use – Today, smartphone users hold more technology in the palm of their hand than it took to put man on the moon. Use your Smartphone to assist you with your caregiving responsibilities:
- Camera – Use the camera on your smartphone to take pictures of your prescription bottles, and you will always have complete information about all of your medications with you. You can also take pictures of identification, health insurance cards, and other important documents that you might need to access on the go.
- Calendar – Use the calendar app on your smartphone to create a shared calendar for you and your care companions. This will make it easier to coordinate appointments and caregiving responsibilities across multiple caregivers.
- FREE productivity apps worth investigating –
- GeniusScan – Multiple page document scanning from your Smartphone
- Wunderlist – Shared list making application that is great for shopping and “to do” lists
- PhotoMyne – Photo scanning app that enhances and corrects old family photos and allows you to add information about each photo
(4) Digital Services and Tools – Take a moment to consider if recently developed technologies and services can lessen your caregiving load:
- Online Shopping – Amazon Prime with free 2-day shipping for everything from toilet paper to hard to find personal gifts
- Mobile Banking – Save a trip to the bank by using mobile deposit instead
- Grocery / Prescription Pick Up & Delivery – Leverage free pick-up / delivery services to save you a trip to the grocery store or pharmacy
- House Calls and Tele-Health Visits – Investigate options covered by your insurance for non-emergency medical appointments
- Transportation Services – Consider using Uber or Lyft in a pinch to transport a non-driver in your care
- Restaurant Meal Delivery – Have a favorite meal brought in when it becomes too challenging to dine out
- Entertainment & Engagement – Tools like Amazon’s Alexa and Echo Spot can provide interaction, engagement, and entertainment without your involvement
- Wearable Devices – Leverage wearable fitness and safety devices like the Apple Watch or Life Alert wearables to monitor the status of your loved ones
A small investment of time and money to update your personal caregiving toolkit will save you time, money and frustration in the long run. It is definitely worth the investment!
Written by: Darra Wray
Darra Wray is a Care Consultant and Certified Senior Advisor with My Care Companions in Boise, Idaho, a company she founded to streamline and simplify the administrative side of care. You can learn more about My Care Companions and the My Data Diary+ family information management software solution at www.mycarecompanions.com