As you go about your day-to-day caregiving responsibilities, you’ve probably wondered whether there’s an easier way to get things done. Maybe you’re sitting in traffic to pick up a prescription at the pharmacy during rush hour for the second time that week. Or maybe one of your paid caregivers needs to reschedule and you find yourself texting with three different people, trying to coordinate a solution on the fly.
Is there an easier way? Yes, often there is. Consider this article a cheat sheet on how today’s tech solutions can help you manage all of the twists and turns in your caregiving journey and take at least some of the tasks off your to-do list. We also provide a short list of some of the vetted resources we send our NeverStop and AgeAssured members in the righthand column.
Widen their social circle
It can be a heavy burden when an older adult relies almost exclusively upon you for all of their social needs, especially if they make it known that they feel lonely. And even though they may want to rely solely on you, it’s not an ideal situation for the older adult, either. Diverse relationships, including ones where they are not always on the receiving end, form a much stronger social foundation.
Going online can open up new worlds for older adults, particularly if they are housebound. Any adult with reliable high-speed internet and basic digital literacy can explore online classes, interest-based and/or identity-based communities, games, and social media. Online volunteering and virtual participation in local events from the comfort of their living room can also lead to in-real-life meetings with people in their community.
An active social life helps to protect mental and physical health by boosting the immune system, protecting against chronic illness, and reducing cognitive decline. Knowing that your older adult can rely upon, interact with, and be entertained by other people besides you is a priceless comfort that can reduce your stress level as a caregiver, too.
Offload routine tasks
There are many apps and services that can help you delegate routine caregiving tasks like grocery shopping, preparing meals, and driving to and from errands and appointments. Groceries and meals can be ordered online and delivered. Ridesharing apps like Uber and Lyft or researching free or low-cost local transportation services can take care of some of the driving you do to doctor appointments and errands.
For adults who are unable to go online, Gogo Grandparent is a wonderful option. It’s a phone-based service that can interface with all of our recommended apps and more. Get started on their website or call 855-464-6872.
For getting connected online:
- American Association of Retired Persons (AARP): Over 100 free online games including solitaire, mahjongg, sudoku, and 10×10.
- Academic Earth: Thousands of pre-recorded university lectures and courses across a variety of subjects.
- Senior Planet Free live courses on wellness, fitness, technology, and more offered via Zoom video conferencing platform.
- Volunteer Match: Find virtual or local volunteering opportunities that suit your schedule, skills, and interest.
For transportation help:
For restaurant delivery:
For grocery delivery:
For care coordination:
Manage a team of caregivers
If you’ve been coordinating help with friends and family and paid caregivers over the phone with a paper and pencil, you might be delighted to learn how online tools can make your life a whole lot easier. Common features of care coordination apps include shared calendars to track activities and appointments, task requests and individual assignments, and organized group messaging. Having everything in one place not only provides an invaluable track record of your caregiving but often provides more emotional support for caregivers, too.
Refilling, reminding, checking, and re-checking multiple medications is challenging for anyone, let alone for the caregiver of an older adult who has cognitive issues.
Apps and technology are immensely helpful here. Medication management apps and smart pillboxes can help with maintaining medication logs, medication scheduling and reminders, drug interaction detection, and refill or appointment notifications. For caregivers, many apps and devices have medication management features built in that can help caregivers coordinate communication among themselves and establish caregiving duties.
Setting up prescriptions to be refilled and delivered from a local or online pharmacy pays dividends for months and years to come. If getting to the pharmacy to pick up medications is difficult for someone, they can access online and app-based services to have medications delivered to their homes through the mail or directly from a retail pharmacy. The following flow might help you figure out the best solution for your situation.
If you are already using a local or retail pharmacy: Call them and ask if they offer home delivery. Many retail pharmacies, including CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart, do. Also ask If they can pre-sort your medications for you.
Consider an online pharmacy: Amazon Pharmacy (855-745-5725) is a great option, especially for ongoing prescriptions. They can ship 90-day supplies to you. They can also pre-sort your medications: Ask about their “Pillpack by Amazon” service.
Still having trouble? Contact your health plan. Many health plans contract with pharmacies to provide mail-order services. Call your health plan’s member services phone number to see what they offer.