A Caregiver Shares Her Favorite Apps to Make Dementia Care Easier
Carol Bradley Bursack | April 12, 2018
Smartphones and tablets have become an integral part of modern life, but who would have thought that caregivers and their loved ones living with dementia would be some of the people most excited about the possibilities? While non–digital books, guides, articles, and support are still necessary, apps have added another way for caregivers and their loved ones live their best lives.
App enthusiast Loretta shares her top picks
Motivational speaker and author Loretta Woodward Veney and her mom, who has dementia, have become celebrities in our dementia community, having been featured in articles in the Washington Post, the New York Times, and a PBS special featuring Alzheimer’s caregivers. As Loretta and I became good friends, I noted her enthusiasm for apps (and nearly anything else). Read on to hear Loretta’s thoughts on the best caregiving and dementia apps out there, and why they may work for you.
1. Alzheimer's and Dementia Companion app
Loretta’s thoughts: “I love this app. There are so many amazing suggestions to help with challenging situations. It’s so helpful in the middle of the night when you’re feeling alone! There are all kinds of strategies for bedtime struggles and ways to manage sleep problems. I call it the best encyclopedia for this disease. You can learn a ton just by reading the tips. They are short and concise, just what you need when you need a quick answer to problem.”
2. Spark Memories Radio app
Loretta’s thoughts: “This is a great app. I love it because though it’s a paid app, it has a lot of songs, and when your loved one doesn’t like the song you can skip it, and if they like it, you can repeat the song. I love that you can create playlists just as you can on your phone. It’s created by a doctor who’s also a musician and developed it to spark memories in dementia patients. My mom sings along and, of course, that makes me happy.”
3. Lifetimes Talk app
Loretta’s thoughts: “This game app is just plain fun. It’s pure and simple — a conversation starter! There are categories, like first dates and favorite recipes, to spark memories in our loved ones. It highlights significant events that most dementia patients can still remember. It’s fun for the caregiver to see them remember things and so fun for the person with dementia. It can be played with two people, and my mom and her best friend love it. They sit in the back seat and laugh. It can also be played in a group.”
4. Senior Care Manager app
Loretta’s thoughts: “This is the best organizer ever! It allows you to have a network of family and friends to help with caregiving. Each Monday, an email is sent to me with all of my mom’s appointments. I can assign them to others or do it myself. This app can keep families organized with their loved one’s appointments, medicines, to-do lists, etc., even if they don’t communicate all that well — the app does all the work. All family members have to do is enter the information into the record. You don’t have to call people with updates … they can access the information themselves.”
5. CareMind for Fitbit app
Loretta’s thoughts: “What I really love about this app is that it’s tailor-made for folks who don’t live with their loved ones. If they walked 3,000 steps per day on average and all of the sudden one day drop down to 1,000, it could indicate that someone needs to check in to determine if anything is wrong. It’s even more important if the sleep patterns change dramatically, which is also followed by this app. It can give peace of mind to long-distance caregivers.”
6. Recolor Coloring app
Loretta’s thoughts: “This is such a cool app, and the best thing is that you can use your finger to color in the design. Mom and I can do it together. She can touch a color she likes, then touch the design and the color appears and she says, ‘Wow!’ Then I color in a portion and she says, ‘That’s pretty.’ There’s no stress in staying in the lines, like coloring on paper, because the area you touch is all that it colors.”
7. Caring Village app
In addition to Loretta’s suggestions, I’ve discovered Caring Village. Like Caregiving Village, which Loretta uses, Caring Village helps you assemble your team, share events, coordinate activities, and communicate with one another, so choosing between the two may be a matter of personal preference, but if you have time, you may want to try both.
Why you should try these apps
Apps can be a great way to connect with your loved ones as a caregiver. If you are at home with your smartphone and love apps, give these a try. Conversely, if you are just getting your feet wet, start with a simple one, like the coloring app. If you are a distance caregiver, the organizing apps may be more up your alley. Soon enough, you’ll find yourself becoming tech-savvy and enjoying more stress-free quality time with your loved one.