8 tech solutions to maintain independence and give caregivers peace of mind
By Jeff Salter for Next Avenue
Every day for the last 24 years, I’ve worked with the elderly and, by extension, with their families. As the founder of Caring Senior Service, a non-medical in-home care provider, my goal is to ensure that people can age with dignity in their own homes and to reassure families that their loved ones are safe and secure. Increasingly, technology helps on both fronts.
As our elders are become more and more tech-savvy, using smartphones, tablets and computers, I am always on the lookout for tech solutions to support their care. Here are my picks for eight simple-to-download apps for seniors, costing no more than $9.99 each, that seniors, their families and our caregivers can use to enhance daily life (I also recommend one non-app — ThinOptics flexible, one-size-fits-all, shatterproof thin reading glasses which fit in a case that attaches to most phones; cost: $25):
The Eyes Have It
- Magnifying Glass With Light
Platforms: iPhone, iPad
Description: As we age and our eyesight decreases, it becomes more difficult to see in general and to read small print. With this app, developed by Falcon in Motion, seniors can illuminate and magnify books, magazines, newspapers, restaurant menus and more from Apple products.
Description: Many families are spread out across the state, country and even internationally. Although they’re able to write letters or talk on the phone, nothing compares with face-to-face interaction. For that reason, our caregivers often set up Skype on their mobile device, computer or tablet so they can “see” each other by video conferencing. When our clients are able to see their children (or grandchildren) who don’t live nearby, it not only makes their day, but also provides their grown kids with peace of mind seeing that their parents’ care is being managed well.
Platforms: iPhone, iPad
Description: As caregivers, we are responsible for managing our clients’ medications on a daily basis. Many of them are required to take a number of meds throughout the day at specific times. That’s why we recommend using this app to help streamline the process. It allows you to set up reminders with visual pill boxes within the mobile application. Pillboxie is ideal for tech-savvy seniors or a family member acting as the primary caregiver for an aging loved one to ensure that no dose is missed or late. This app does not require a data connection and even sends reminders when your phone is asleep.
Description: Our caregivers love this app for many reasons: It has quick access to lists of medications, pill reminders with easy setup and even access to the pharmacy’s website to fill prescriptions. And all of this can be done right in the palm of your hand on your phone, tablet or other device.
To pass the time
- Crosswords Classic
Description: Not only do seniors enjoy reading, playing games and doing puzzles to keep busy, these activities also keep their brain active. This classic crossword puzzle app is available anywhere they go; it has hundreds of puzzles and adds new ones daily.
Description: Another great option is Sudoku, the numbers version of the classic crossword. It’s also available for download and can be played anywhere.
Description: Another app that is great for passing the time and keeping the brain sharp. Used by over 60 million people worldwide, this app is designed to help train memory and attention.
In Case of Emergency
- Red Panic Button
Cost: $2.99 plus fees for some features
Description: This is another important tool we can provide to our friends and loved ones. There may be times when a primary caregiver needs to go to the grocery store, step outside to get the mail or run an errand. Anything can happen, so providing your loved ones access to immediate help during the time they are alone is important. This app allows you to input both your information as well as your loved one’s should an emergency occur. In order to report an emergency or a need for assistance, seniors simply open the app and hit the red button in the middle of screen. While the app charges for some features, that’s a small price to pay for safety.
The world we live in is constantly changing and one of the most important things I’ve learned from my 24 years in the industry is that we need to adapt to these changes. Technology can make our lives simpler and, as a result, we can enjoy more time with our family and friends.