Exemplar Technology: Apps for Coordinating Caregiving
In 2019, AARP published guidance for navigating “the clutter of an overwhelming amount of electronic aids” for caregivers (Saltzman, 2019). The AARP’s list centers on general-purpose consumer health apps that can be used by caregivers, such as medication reminders. However, three of the apps listed are caregiver tools that allow coordinating and managing care of a loved one. These include CareZone, Caring Village, and Lotsa Helping Hands. Reliance on such tools may be particularly valuable in remote/geographically dispersed caregiving network. For example, SeniorNavigator, a Virginia Navigator website that provides support to seniors and their caregivers, promotes care coordinating sites as tools that “can help caregivers during COVID-19 and social distancing” (Virginia Navigator, 2020).
Caring Village, which includes an online dashboard and a mobile app, allows the user to create a networked group of “administrators,” “inner circle” members, and “friends” of a care recipient. Different types of membership come with different levels of access. Administrators can create to-do tasks (e.g., driving to an appointment, preparing a meal) and ask other members to take responsibility for them. The tool supports other tasks, such as maintaining an up-to-date medications list, and includes a collection of uploaded reference documents that can be easily accessed from anywhere. The app also permits users to upload their own necessary documents and organize them into categories - for example, legal, financial, and medical forms such as home safety preparedness checklists.
Exemplar Technology: Psychosocial Support Networks for Caregivers
Online caregiver support groups help caregivers reduce stress and fight depression (Ploeg et al., 2017). They enable caregivers to connect to others and receive psychosocial support despite multiple demands on their time and difficulty leaving home. Social support networks differ in platforms (Facebook vs other forums), size, and focus (e.g., general vs. condition; demographic-specific). For example, the Dementia Caregivers Support Group, created in 2013, is a private Facebook Group that includes over 16,000 members. The group unites caregivers of individuals with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The group description stresses that “people coming here are hurt and damaged; they need to vent” (Dementia Caregivers Support Group, 2020). The rules of the group require that members include photos in their profiles and treat one another with kindness. They also explicitly prohibit posting messages for survey recruitment or research purposes, as well as “pseudoscience from a questionable source.”