Caregiving: There's an app for that.
In fact, there are many to choose from — and therein lies the problem.
With so many caregiving, health and wellness applications available in the App Store for iPhones and iPads and the Google Play store for Android devices, finding something worthy could prove to be a time-consuming and overwhelming endeavor.
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"The popularity of smartphones — a portable computer you always have with you — has really catalyzed the app space,” says Laurie M. Orlov, founder of Aging and Health Technology Watch, a site that tracks research and trends in aging-related tech.
"There are many apps to help caregivers and their loved ones, whether it's to help track someone, shop for supplies, look up trusted information, manage medication, schedule appointments, book transportation, find specialty pharmacies or join support groups — just to name a few examples,” Orlov says. “And often the apps are free, as they're usually supported by advertisements."
Look no further if you're in search of a few recommended apps to help you navigate caregiving responsibilities. All are free (at least in their basic versions) and, unless otherwise specified, available for both Apple and Android devices. Many can also be accessed on a Mac or PC via affiliated websites.
Carely is a social network–like app ideal for tag-team caregiving, as it allows invited individuals to communicate and coordinate caregiver responsibilities and track activities and appointments via a shared calendar.
Not unlike Facebook and Instagram, Carely lets you share photos of your loved one, post comments and questions, and direct-message others to make arrangements =“Is anyone available to watch Mom on Wednesday afternoon?”). You can also use the app to find professional caregiving resources in your community and contact providers.
Carely just added an optional dark theme to be easier on your eyes and preserve the battery life of your device, too.
Similarly, Caring Village lets you create a custom “village,” or team, to coordinate care activities like arranging transportation and meals. You can include as many people as you want — family, friends, neighbors, care professionals — and easily assign roles to team members with secure in-app messaging, shareable to-do lists and other features.
With Caring Village, you can also keep track of medications, create and use preparedness checklists, upload important documents you can access anywhere, synchronize calendars, and keep a wellness journal, if desired.
Lotsa Helping Hands
As its name suggests, Lotsa Helping Hands is another option for creating and coordinating a community of care around a loved one. Invite whomever you’d like to the group and easily manage everything through the app’s intuitive dashboard and calendar feature.
With Lotsa Helping Hands, you can communicate appointment information; schedule meals, rides and visits; and solicit help by posting requests. You can also blast announcements and updates, receive messages from loved ones, and share photos from this one app instead of dealing with multiple calls, emails and texts.
The Medisafe app has one simple but important goal: to send you personalized reminders for each of your medications.
Along with a reminder and alarm when it’s time to take meds, you can get notifications when prescriptions are running low and when coupons and discounts on your prescriptions are available at thousands of drugstores nationwide (via a partnership with GoodRx).
You can also get alerts if you shouldn't be mixing specific medications — the app boasts tens of thousands of drug-interaction warnings (Medisafe says no data is shared with third parties) —and share information on symptoms such as upset stomach, dizziness or weight gain with a pharmacist or physician to determine if any of your meds (or combination of them) could be responsible.
The basic app is free to use. A paid upgrade, Medisafe Premium ($4.99 a month or $39.99 a year), gives you unlimited family and friend profiles; access to more than 20 health measurements; options to customize reminder voices, color themes and your onscreen “pillbox”; and no banner ads.
Built on technology Walmart acquired from digital health company CareZone in 2020, Walmart Wellness is a comprehensive app to manage medications for yourself or a loved one. It offers the same features as the CareZone app plus options tailored for Walmart Pharmacy customers. (You don’t need to be one to use the app, but you will need a walmart.com account.)
You can create health care profiles for multiple people (and even pets) and share them with family members and caregivers; get automatic reminders for taking pills or ordering refills (and get status updates from Walmart Pharmacy); and scan pill bottles with your smartphone (or import prescriptions from Walmart Pharmacy) to instantly create a detailed list of meds to keep handy on your device.
Like Medisafe, Walmart Wellness lets you monitor possible side effects and report them to a health care professional. You can also track health trends over time (for example, mood, weight and sleep patterns) and display the data in colorful graphs; store medical info like allergies and COVID vaccinations in a journal; create to-do lists; and synchronize calendar entries with loved ones and care professionals.
Other caregiving apps to check out
• Caring. Like Carely, Caring is a free platform (with an optional premium/paid option) that lets you manage tasks, share the load with others, access your loved one’s medical and medication info, and much more. Available for Android.
• Dementia Talk. A handy app that focuses on dealing with loved ones living with Alzheimer's disease and other dementia, offering a behavior tracker, care plan, medication lists and a schedule.
• eCare21. Remotely monitor your loved one's heart rate, glucose levels, sleep and other health data via wearable devices that capture and share the info.
• First Aid: American Red Cross. Get clear and concise first aid and CPR instructions in the event of an emergency.
• MyMeds. A medication app that sends reminders via email, in-app notifications or text messages.
• RxSaver. This app and website helps you cut prescription costs with tools to compare prices at pharmacies near you and find coupons that could get you up to 80 percent off on your meds.
Marc Saltzman is a contributing writer who covers personal technology. His work also appears in USA Today and other national publications. He hosts the podcast series Tech It Out and is the author of several books, including Apple Watch for Dummies.