There’s no denying that caregiving can be a costly and stressful experience for those who find themselves needing to support a friend or family member. According to AARP, there are over 44 million American adults who work as unpaid caregivers—and over one-third of these individuals view their responsibility as emotionally stressful.
Many caregivers find that their responsibilities have forced them to give up hobbies and activities with family or friends. In more extreme cases where near-constant care is required, some caregivers even give up their job entirely, which can also contribute to financial hardships. And of course, the situation can be just as stressful and challenging for the person receiving care.
In spite of all these challenges, however, caregiving can also have a positive impact on the lives of those providing care, with some studies supporting the idea that for many individuals, caregiving is a uniquely rewarding experience that doesn’t result in an overwhelming burden. And a large part of that is due to advances in the resources available to both caregivers and those receiving care that are helping to ease the responsibilities and challenges so frequently associated with caregiving.
Here’s a closer look at some of the new developments that are improving the caregiving experience for patients and providers alike.
Consumer-Directed Personal Assistance Programs
A common concern faced by many individuals in need of care is the challenge of finding a trusted individual who can provide quality help. While family members or close friends may be willing to provide assistance, quite often, they lack the experience necessary to handle vital medical tasks. Yet many individuals are wary of professional organizations, where their home care provider could change from month to month.
This is where consumer-directed personal assistance programs (CDPAP) come in. These programs allow qualified patients to have greater control over their home care. Rather than depending on a health agency to send caregivers (who may or may not be the best fit for the individual receiving care), CDPAP allows individuals to select a friend or family member to provide care.
While it’s understandable that receiving care from a loved one does wonders for a patient’s peace of mind, it is also important to note how these programs benefit family caregivers. Caregivers are provided with training that ensures they will provide sufficient care, including such tasks as oxygen or medication administration. With proper training, caregivers can work with confidence as they provide proper support.
Since CDPAP is offered through Medicaid, the caregivers who provide service via this program also receive wages and benefits, which reduces one of the most potentially stressful aspects of caregiving.
They say there’s an app for everything these days, and that includes caregiving. In fact, there are a wide range of caregiving apps now available on the market that serve as excellent resources for managing patient care tasks and finding reliable information.
For example, the free app Symple allows caregivers to track symptoms that a loved one experiences, while also allowing users to forward information to a doctor. Other apps, like First Aid by American Red Cross and Elder 411, provide users with a quick (and accurate) reference source to help caregivers understand what particular symptoms mean, how to provide emergency first aid, and other home care best practices.
Still other apps, such as CareZone, allow caregivers to more easily track their various responsibilities by consolidating to-do lists, medication and treatment needs, and other important health information all in one place.
Thanks to these and other caregiver-oriented smartphone apps, caregivers can reduce much of their emotional stress through access to better organization and information.
Of course, smartphone apps aren’t the only tech advances that has eased the caregiving burden. As noted by AARP, several health monitoring technologies have made it easier than ever to track patients health and movements—something that is particularly beneficial for those caring for individuals with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Many of these new developments are wireless upgrades (or simply more advanced versions) of previously available technology. For example, wireless blood pressure monitoring tools allow for more consistent tracking of an individual’s blood pressure, with all information handily uploaded online.
Tools such as GPS tracking devices that are inserted in shoes, floor mat alarms, and motion sensors also connect with smart technology to ensure that caregivers are constantly aware of the movements of Alzheimer’s patients—and don’t have to worry about their patients getting lost or in trouble.
These tech upgrades allow caregivers to provide higher-quality care and have greater confidence as they care for a loved one.
While caregiving can still prove to be quite a challenge, these developments have made it easier than ever for caregivers to have access to the information and training they need to provide proper care, while also simplifying their responsibilities of tracking a patient’s condition. By reducing many of the potential mental, emotional, and financial challenges associated with caregiving, these new advances allow caregivers to have a more rewarding experience and provide better care to their loved ones.