Family Caregiver Survey Explores Use of Technology

United Healthcare in connection with the National Alliance for Caregiving recently conducted a survey to examine family caregiversäó» receptivity to technology. The study assessed how helpful 12 technologies would be in supporting caregivers or helping them provide care.
The 1,000 family caregivers surveyed have expectations for the technology including:

  • being able to save time
  • making caregiving easier logistically
  • making the care recipient feel safer
  • increasing feelings of being effective
  • reducing stress.ŒæŒæ

Technologies that help caregivers deliver, monitor, track, or coordinate their loved oneäó»s medical care is key. Though there is a belief that the technology would be expensive.
Other limiting beliefs included:

  • the technology does not solve or address a pressing caregiving issueŒæŒæ
  • the care recipient would resist accepting the technologyŒæ
  • the technology would diminish the care recipientäó»s sense of independence or pride
  • Œæthe technology would lessen the care recipientäó»s privacy
  • the technology would take too much time or effort to learn or useŒæ
  • Œæthe technology would decrease the care recipientäó»s level of social interaction
The three top technologies that caregivers desire are:ξ
  1. Personal health record to track of care recipientäó»s personal health records, including patient history, symptoms, medications, tests, etc.
  2. Caregiving coordination system for doctor appointments and other caregiving needs. Caregivers can use the system to request a volunteer on certain days and times, and family members and friends can use it to sign up to help. Think about something we blogged about called Lotsa Helping Hands.ξ
  3. Medication support system that reminds the care recipient and dispenses pills on schedule.
Three other technologies appear to have moderate potential:

  • A symptom monitor and transmitter that electronically sends information such as blood sugar or blood pressure readings to a doctor or care manager.
  • An interactive system for physical, mental and leisure activities, a TVäóbased device, like a Wii Fit, that would allow the caregiver to create a schedule of gentle physical activities and mental games for the care recipient.
  • A video phone system with video capability or an Internetäóconnected computer with webcam that allows caregivers to check in and see the care recipient when they canäó»t physically be together.

Having less potential are:

  • caregiver training simulations
  • caregiving decisionäósupport too
  • passive movement monitoring systems, being able to track and detect if someone has fallen for example, without the person needing to push an emergency response button
  • caregiving coaching software
  • caregiving mentor matching service
Younger caregivers, no surprise, are more likely to adopt technology and perceive fewer barriers.

What technologies do you employ now as a caregiver?

What technologies would you like to see?