Apps can be extremely useful in supporting caregivers through the challenges of caring for a sick person, from juggling their day-to-day responsibilities. They also help caregivers to manage the stress of caring for a sick loved one and maintain their own wellbeing.
If you are a caregiver, looking after yourself is not a nice-to-have but a must-have. To take care of a sick person in the short or long term, you need to nurture your own mental and physical health at all times, so you are happy and healthy in the process.
Technology can make this that much easier - and mobile apps designed for caregivers are particularly relevant here.
Apps can help caregivers in many ways, including:
- Keeping track of important information and appointments
- Setting reminders to take medicines
- Keeping a log of any relevant activities
- Coordinating activities across caregivers if there's more than one person helping out
- Keeping important notes from doctors or other healthcare providers
- Sharing data with loved ones or healthcare providers
- Keeping family and friends updated with information, documents and photographs
Apps that support caregivers in staying healthy and managing their own conditions
Caring for a loved one who is ill can be tough. Becoming a caregiver means it's fundamental to take excellent care of yourself so you can act effectively. Neglecting your health may also have serious long-term consequences that are completely avoidable.
So, be sure to maintain any health check-ups, whether they're scheduled once a year or in line with any immediate needs you may have.
You can use an app to set reminders to schedule your health screening tests - check-up tests, such as those for blood pressure or diabetes, visiting the dentist, having a mammogram and so on. The frequency of your check-ups depends on your personal profile (your age, gender, family history and risk level for various diseases). Ask your medical practitioner to guide you on these.
Apps to try:
Apps can remind caregivers and the person they care for to take medicine on time - and more
It's essential that you and the person you're caring for take medicine as prescribed. Make sure you never miss a scheduled dose again by using an app that reminds you when medicine is due. Most apps also allow you to enter the dose needed and remind you when the prescription is due for a refill.
- Discovery Health's Medicine tracker: Get reminders on your phone to stay on track with taking your prescribed medicine. Download the Discovery app, then go to Medical Aid, scroll down to Medicine Reminder and follow the prompts.
Apps that help caregivers keep track of a loved one's symptoms and update others on their progress and needs
Staying in touch with friends, family members and other caregivers is made easier by using apps:
CaringBridge offers a safe, secure place for loved ones and caregivers to provide health updates, and for family and friends to respond with messages of support.
Symple Symptom Tracker helps you to keep track of symptoms the person you are caring for may experience and track their medicine, activities and meals. The data can be compiled into a graph or PDF and shared with their doctor.
Caring Village offers a wellness journal where you can track symptoms and medicines and store documents. You can also share information with family, friends and healthcare providers. A secure messaging system within the app allows you to add friends and family and coordinate plans.
PainScale allows you to capture data on a person's pain levels, triggers and intensity as well as their activity levels, medicine and doses, mood and sleep quality. Captured in the app diary, this information can be shared with others.
CareZone offers a secure place to store and share information, from notes and observations to task lists, medicine logs, photos and more.
Apps that support caregivers' mental wellbeing
Caring for another person can be rewarding. However, caregivers may face physical, emotional and financial stress - and this can affect their physical health, relationships and mental wellbeing. Stress means they have a higher risk of developing anxiety, depression, burnout or mental illness.
Keep in mind that our mental health and wellbeing are just as important to our overall state of health as our physical health and wellbeing. Any interventions that help us assess and improve our mental wellbeing could have a profound impact on our health and ability to function - as well as our ability to effectively care for a sick person.
If you are a caregiver, you should be screened regularly for signs of stress. Develop or maintain healthy habits that feed your mental wellbeing: healthy eating, exercise, good quality and quantity of sleep, and stress management, to name a few.
Get rewarded for reaching mental wellbeing goals
- In 2020, Vitality launched a new programme to help members assess and improve their mental wellbeing, rewarding members for reaching their mental wellbeing goals on Vitality Active Rewards. Members can earn 500 points when completing a set of mental wellbeing assessments. The assessments are based on six focus areas that influence our overall state of mental wellbeing.
Find out more.
- These assessments go towards creating your mental wellbeing profile. You'll also have access to tailored recommendations and interventions based on your risk. These could be videos and apps to help you practise mindfulness and sleep better, or counselling over the phone.
Vitality at Home, an online portal with a wealth of information, podcasts and videos on caring for your mental wellbeing at home.
Apps for mindfulness
Mindfulness - the state of focusing your awareness on the present - has many reported benefits, including an increased feeling of calm, clarity and wellbeing, as well as the alleviation of pain and insomnia. Mindfulness-based apps can help you monitor your mood and stress levels, send you daily inspirational messages and offer short, guided meditation videos and relaxation techniques that may benefit both you and your loved ones.
Vitality at Home recommends:
Find out more about each of these apps.
Also keep the Cancer Dojo app in mind. While it's designed for people who have cancer, it's also a useful resource for caregivers. It can assist them to help a loved ones to play an active role in their cancer treatment, with the intention of making them more resilient to the negative effects of the disease.
Podcasts are also an invaluable resource for caregivers
A host of podcasts cover content relevant to caregivers. Read up on these options:
- Top 50 caregiver podcasts to follow in 2021
- Caregiver podcasts
- Five helpful podcasts for caregivers
- Podcasts for family caregivers
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