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Kathy M. provided the following biography: ” I live with my two sons, husband, and dad (ages 16 to 96) in the mid-Atlantic area. After a job layoff in my field of advertising, various family members became ill, and I transitioned into the role of caregiver. My dad moved in with us nine years ago and was doing well until suffering a stroke in 2018. In addition to assisting my dad, I try to keep active through photography, painting, writing, taking occasional freelance jobs, and helping my husband with property renovation/rentals. And having a catch with my sons!”
What tips do you have for care at home?
You may already know the convenience of ordering meds and health aids online, or asking Siri/Echo/Alexa to set your alarm. But have you heard about mental health chat bots, and artificial intelligence used for robotic companions (including cats!) for seniors?
You and I may not be ready for that. My single tip, though, is this: Go electronic!
For patients or loved ones in need, it’s priceless.
My 96-year old dad doesn’t travel much anymore, so he really looks forward to Skype chats with my brothers. We plug a gamer’s headset (perfect for the hard of hearing) into his iPad and set up the calls.
The iPad also allows my Dad to indulge in his eclectic interests: line dancing, old comedy skits, civil rights, Cuban jazz. Online streaming services like Netflix offer documentaries and nature programs as well as feature movies.
We also use the library app Overdrive for free borrowing of audiobooks, eBooks, current newspapers and magazines. No overdue fines!
For caregivers, electronics are a game-changer.
My cell phone is handy not only for keeping the phone numbers of Dad’s doctors, but also for snapping a pic of that itchy spot on Dad’s back, so he can see it. And I sometimes use voice memo (installed on most phones) to easily record important medical conversations.
Medicines – his and mine – are tracked in Round Health app, which alerts me when we need to take them. This also comes in handy for providing a current prescriptions list at appointments.
Stray pills found on the countertop? No problem. I log onto drugs.com, type in the color, shape and lettering, and their “pill identifier” provides the name and strength of each pill.
Another app called Next Door is ideal for seeking anything from highly-recommended local respite caregivers to used scooters.
On my computer, I keep logs of Dad’s health episodes. And I’m always looking on the internet for the newest health and safety aids, relying heavily on caregiver/patient reviews.
Electronic gadgets have become more user-friendly in recent years. A security camera such as Nest is easy to install and can monitor activity in a room, providing peace of mind whether you’re upstairs or outside, via your cell phone. And Xbox has cool customizable adaptive controllers for differently-abled gamers.
To cope with caregiver burnout, I belong to some private facebook pages and chat boards. There are all kinds, specific to the illness or what role you’re in, for example. Some are faith-based; some, like Reddit posts, are more raw. You might try a few before you find one you click with. They are good places to vent, to give and receive advice, and even to make friends.
The possibilities are endless. I’m learning new tricks weekly (all while keeping Dad in sight!). You and I may never use online AI counseling or buy a robo-kitty that purrs. But truly, electronics is gift of connection, linking you and your loved one to the world.
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