Healthy Aging

Caregiving Essentials

Taking care of a loved one who is ill is probably one of the biggest challenges any of us will ever face.  And so often caregivers are on their own—doing it alone without help or guidance.  Thirty-six percent of family caregivers describe their situation as  highly stressful according to a report by AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving.  Four in 10 caregivers are depressed, resentful and experience mood swings according to another study.  A quarter of them show a higher level of stress hormones and lower level of immune response.

caregiving can be made easier with the right digital tools and technology.

Where can caregivers turn?  

Caregivers need help.  Paid help is expensive. Often caregiving falls on one (usually female) family member.  However, caregiving can be made easier with the right digital tools and technology – if they know where and how to look.

Senior Planet has developed a series of six videos (see here) in its Digital Essentials series, a project funded by the CDC Foundation. The videos (available for free) demonstrate how digital tools and platforms make everyday tasks easier and can be used to improve physical and mental well-being. More than that, each video in the Digital Essentials series teaches caregivers how to use technology to shop, access resources, engage socially, and more.

Six Vital Videos for Caregivers

Here’s an inside look with links to the individual videos plus articles with insider tips. The guide to all videos is Senior Planet trainer Ilze Duarte, who has a wonderfully calming and measured delivery, taking everything step by step:

  • Online safety:   You’ll see step by step how to use the internet to access resources. You’ll also learn how to create a strong password, how to avoid spam, what “phishing” is and how NOT to be victimized by it.  You can learn how to communicate safely with your bank – plus other helpful tips.  Want more? Check out this article for more online safety tips.
  • Facebook groups. Isolation can be the worst part of caregiving—feeling that you’re totally alone and no one else could possibly understand.  Facebook to the rescue.   In this video you’ll find out how to control your privacy settings, join a Facebook Group (like one specifically for caregivers), or create a Facebook Group.  You’ll learn how to use Facebook Messenger to connect with specific Facebook members as well. For more tips about Facebook caregivers’ groups see this resource.
  • Health Care.  With telemedicine, caregivers can schedule virtual doctor visits from home, order medications online and have them delivered, find money-saving coupons for medicines, among many other services. This session introduces telemedicine to viewers, with a walkthrough of a digital medical visit with VA video Connect, plus a review of some of the many online health and wellness resources, even from authorities like the Mayo Clinic.  Caregivers can get valuable tutorials on how to take blood pressure, how to use medical devices and how to get help in a crisis from the CDC.  want more info?  Here is another helpful guide to what medical sources you can trust online.
  • Food and Grocery Delivery  Caregivers can appreciate the convenience of meal delivery or even just grocery delivery.  After explaining the procedures (downloading the app, and what info each app needs), the session offers a quick review of popular apps/sites. Duarte covers what you need to know to start ordering on your phone, computer or tablet, with basics like ordering, tipping, viewing or giving ratings, meal kits, how different apps work and more. Want more? Read this article with insider tips on ordering groceries online efficiently and  inexpensively.
  • Internet of Medical Things.   This reviews the numerous internet-connected medical devices.  Some offer individual health monitoring for the at-home patient (glucose levels, blood pressure, heart rate).  Caregivers can also learn about remote devices to help them monitor conditions at home (fall detection, video monitoring and other devices).  An article in Senior Planet covered some of these smart home devices.  Duarte also covers voice to text and assistants such as Google Voice and Siri.  The New York Times covered this subject extensively in this helpful article.
  • Connecting on Social Media: You’ll learn the range of social media available that could help you connect with other caregivers or caregiving resources.  Starting with the proper terminology,  Duarte then takes a closer look at the four most popular forms:  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok and ends with suggestions on how to guard privacy and personal information.

Not just caregivers benefit from the video series, everyone benefits. “Besides the applications I’m learning about, I learned something truly vital: Not to be afraid of the computer!” says Joan Ungero, who took the Digital Essentials training.   She says. “If something doesn’t work, I poke around trying different things, something I was afraid to do beore taking the training. The best part? “I surprise myself again and again: I usually find what I want.”




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