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Add a Robot to Your Caregiving Team?

5 Technology Devices/Services to Help Make Your Caregiving a Little Easier

From the moment I chuckled at the hilarious shuttle driver on the way from O’Hare International Airport to the Marriott Chicago O’Hare hotel I knew the next few days were going to be amazing. Walking into the hotel the energy ramped up even more. It was a close call – I had 10 minute to check in to my room and get the early registration completed for the 2nd Annual National Caregiving Conference – Our Boldest Hours: Before, During and After Caregiving.

I have to admit, I have some conflicting thoughts about technology and caregiving.   It’s true there are a lot of advantages to most of the technology. Sometimes I wonder if it’s worth it. I don’t mean just the price. I also wonder if the set up and monitoring time is worth it.

My mom is 87 years old and is legally blind with macular degeneration. She is able to see quite a bit and gets along fine most of the time. Seeing anything in print and small things (like computer icons) is a challenge. My 87-year-old step dad has an iPad, and does OK with it to read the news, post the odd things on Facebook, and he even remembers how to text every now and then. Would he remember how to use the iPad or any other technology on a regular basis? Not likely. He’s a smart man. There’s a lot of new things for him to learn on the technology front.

It’s a 7 – 8 hour drive to wear my mom and step-dad live. I can’t just pop over a couple times a week to make sure devices are charged and to review operating instructions.

That’s the main reason the technology panel was first session I went to at the conference. I was curious to see if there is some technology support that would truly be easier for me. Or would my hypothesis that the technology is super and innovative – and it would be more work for me to not only convince my mom and step-dad to use it, but to also keep it working on their end.

Technology Device/Service#1:         Medminder.com

This website offers a number of solutions, including pill dispensers for purchase, alert options and even medication delivery services. It looks like a pretty awesome service and would be helpful for any family. I received a message from the company within minutes to let me know that as of now, they haven’t shipped to individuals in Canada.   There are some Canadian institutions using their services.  (I will do some more research into this after American Thanksgiving.)

Technology Device/Service #2:        Livhome.com/care-technology

This is something that could help a lot of families. It can bring a lot of peace of mind for both the person doing the caregiving and the caree. It requires comfort with using smartphones and tablets for it to work. The benefits are great: improve socialization and connection, sense of safety and security, helps with medication compliance, have video chats, share photos, collect and survey data trends, and receive calendar reminders.

Currently it is only available in Northern and Southern California, Texas and Illinois. Check out the website and send them an email if you’d like it offered where you live. They don’t know the demand until you ask for it.

Technology Device/Service #3       Caretree.me

During the presentation this website was referred to be “as easy as Facebook.”   It has a unique feature as it is set up for both families who are providing support and care for a loved one, and for the professionals who provide services to family caregivers. It is free to use for families and there are fees for the professionals to use this platform.

It helps families get a care assessment to find out specifically which services and professionals each family needs on their care team. One really cool feature is that once you have the profile set up and add your family as users, you can set their security level for what they can access and the system will automatically update them. Another cool feature is that you can have it set up with a paid caregiver who can check into the system and see task lists. It gives you peace of mind to know your loved one is being cared for and the important tasks are completed.

Some other features are: a marketplace, connecting the care team and the family, and EMR access.

I haven’t yet tested the family side of the service to see if it works in Canada. I am expecting there would be no glitches. I am not sure about the professional side. I will do some more research and put the update in a future blog post.

Technology Device/Service #4         Mother Monitoring System 

This is available on Amazon and helps track and monitor various activities, including sleep and medication schedules. It uses pieces called “cookies” that track the activities. For example, when a cookie is placed under a pill bottle “Mother” will alert you if the pill isn’t taken according to schedule.

Technology Device/Service #5     Jibo.com

Jiboo is a social robot. It looks pretty cool and would help entertain your loved one if they tend to get lonely. It might be just the thing to be able to get a break for a few minutes or hours.   My basic research didn’t come up with anything that shows it does a lot of monitoring. It seems like it might be fun.

One technology service that wasn’t included at the conference, but it is one I used when Callum was sick is Lotsa Helping Hands. www.lotsahelpinghands.com

It helped me schedule all the help I needed without having to take phone calls or return emails. I added what I needed to the calendar, sent the link and people signed up for what they wanted to do and what fit with their schedule. There are sections in the website to record pertinent medical and legal information. You can choose to have someone else be the administrator of your profile so the only thing you have to worry about is sending them the information of what you need. They do all the heavy lifting. It is a pretty cool site with lots of helpful information.

All that being said, I am curious about what you think. Please leave your answers in the comments section below:

Are they helpful for both you and the person you care for?

Will any of these technology devices or services work for you?

Do you have any technology tips for our caregiving friends?    

May you find peace, hope, and joy in every day.

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