10 Great Phone Apps for Family Caregivers

December 1, 2014  
Filed under Feature Stories

By Kaye Swain

Staying busy with real estate, caregiving and grandparenting keeps me on my toes! I love to use technology to help me. Being a very happy iPhone user, I have over 1000 apps (most of which I got for free) for my iPhone, though I only have about 100+ on my main iPhone at any given time.

Here are 10 of my favorite apps that are especially helpful for caregivers:

Pocket First Aid and CPR Smartphone App

This app is from the American Heart Association and produced by Jive. Available for both iPhone and Android, it “provides quick, concise, and clear first aid and CPR instructions from a user’s smartphone that can help a user save a life in the event of an emergency.” They have used both videos and illustrations to help you deal with a variety of medical issues in addition to a heart attack, including severe allergic reaction, bleeding and burns (large), breathing problems, choking, and stroke. I have never needed this app and hope I never do. But IF I do, I am really glad it’s right there in my cell phone which is always in my pocket or purse. This app is not free, but it’s definitely worth paying for.

CPR Hands-Only 

This app is also from the American Heart Association and produced by Jive for both the iPhone and Android. To quote them, “Studies of real emergencies that have occurred…show that Hands-Only CPR can be as effective as conventional CPR.” This app has written and recorded information to help you perform this life-saving technique on an adult who collapses. I tested it with my WiFi turned on and off on my cell phone and the recording worked either way. One note – the app refers to a video and has an arrow for one but on my phone, it is voice only.

iTriage

A free app for both iPhone and Android, iTriage offers several useful choices to help caregivers. I personally keep the privacy and location settings turned off and just use the symptom checker, as well as the conditions, medications and procedures “dictionaries” and the health news button and find them all very useful. If you turn on the “location,” it can also show you what doctors and facilities, including urgent care and emergency rooms, are close by – great for traveling or if you have just moved to a new area. In addition, you can sign up for an account and personalize it even further. Needless to say, I would check this out thoroughly before adding any personal information. There are a handful of apps and sites that offer this, but I tend to be ultra-cautious about using anything online that requires personal medical and financial info as, even if the site is safe and reputable, hacking is too prevalent these days.

Evernote

I tell people my smartphone has become “my brain,” and Evernote is a big part of that! It took me a couple of tries to really start using it but once I did, I’ve never looked back. I save a lot of information in Evernote. I have PDF ebooks in there for medical information, work documents and reading pleasure. I have a notebook for my senior mom and each time we go to the doctor’s I open a new page, date it, and jot down the important things I want to ask the doctor. Once we’re in the room with the doctor, I use that page to type in her latest blood pressure, weight, etc. along with notes of what the doctor says and orders. (If they talk too fast, I hand write it all on my ever-present shorthand notebook, then add it to Evernote later). I have photos and a list of all the medications each of us take. Whatever I put in my cell phone is synced to the “cloud” and then to my main laptop and any other computer I might want to have it on. I can’t tell you the number of shorthand notebooks I’ve filled with info, then couldn’t remember which notebook that info was in. With Evernote, I can do a search relatively easily. And that is just a small portion of what I do in this very handy app that is available for iPhone, Android, Mac and Windows. Evernote is free, however I choose to subscribe to the premium version. Among other reasons, it enables me to be able to search note history in case I accidentally delete something important. Again, do use caution in what you store there. I don’t save anything that would be a problem 

if the site were hacked and the information released.

Listary 

I love this iPhone app, particularly for grocery shopping. I can easily add items for my senior mom and myself. As I purchase them, I just check them off. It was also quite handy when we moved to a new state. I had a list of items to pack in the car, a list of places we wanted to visit when we drove cross country, and various other lists to help me keep on task with the various issues I was juggling on top of moving. The Android doesn’t offer this app but they do have other list apps. 

TurboScan/Surescan 3x

One thing many of us caregivers deal with regularly is a ton of paperwork. I have two apps that help me tremendously in dealing with it all. If all I need is a legible copy of a document, this is my primary app. It makes excellent scans of documents using just the camera setting. Once in a while, they aren’t clear enough and then I use their SureScan 3x. It takes three pictures of a document and blends them together to give me an excellent copy. I can then save those copies in my phone, email them and/or text them – to myself or to others. It even gives me the choice of saving them as pdf or jpg which has been very useful on more than one occasion when the office I sent copies to couldn’t read the jpg but could read the pdf. This tool has saved me a huge amount of time, not to mention money for the copies I used to have to pay for. This app is currently $2.99 and worth every penny. Currently, this app is only for the iPhone but they are working on one for the Android.

JotNot

Once in a while, I am required to send faxes rather than email or text. Then I use JotNot. It also has a scanner (though not the 3x option). I scan the document, fax it, (at the time of this writing, the charge was 99 cents for up to five pages). Talk about a time and money-saver. They offer a free and paid app so I would recommend you start with the free and see if you like if first. I did and I upgraded to the Pro which is 99 cents. This is only available for the iPhone.

The New York Times also has a good review of both of these with suggestions for alternate apps for Android users.

Instagram 

Due to health issues and unexpected illnesses, caregivers aren’t always able to get out as much as we might like, including to see other loved ones. Instagram is a free app for the iPhone and Android and it can be a lovely way to help “keep us in the loop” during this season of life. My granddaughter helped set me up to receive the Instagram feeds for her, her cousin and their moms. They all frequently post photos of daily happenings and those photos appear instantly for my senior mom and me to enjoy and download using another app, InstaSync — which is only for the iPhone, is $1.99 — allows me to download photos from anyone I subscribe to who has accepted me.

Apps Gone Free 

Many caregivers’ budgets are extra tight and this app has definitely been a huge help for mine. Every day, this free app lists 4-8 apps available for free for that day. I’ve gotten fun ones for grandkids, tools I can use and caregiving apps – like taking a pulse with your cell phone. The Android has “Free App of the Day” that is also free. The site says, “Get daily notice of free games and applications.” Not as many freebies as for the iPhone, but every little bit helps!

Printed courtesy of Caregiving.com.

 

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