In 1996, Hillary Clinton published a book called, It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us. If you were alive then, you know that the book was about how it takes an entire community to raise children, not just the parents or grandparents, guardians, teachers, caregivers, etc. I would also argue that it takes a village to manage a chronic or serious illness. While the primary responsibilities always seem to fall on one person, the journey wasn’t meant to be traveled alone. It includes doctors, nurses, aides, therapists of all kinds, family members, friends, clergy and many others you may never meet.
I think that many people are so willing to help but (a) either don’t know what to do; or (b) are too busy to do it. Caregivers are also sometimes reluctant to ask for help or cannot give much notice about a request. I know I had the sweetest friend offer to bring food to my house – but not for three weeks! I had no idea what would happen a month from that moment. Things were just so unpredictable at that time. I politely declined.
Things have changed in the past few years, and technological advances give caregivers options to communicate and coordinate with family and friends about care needs. Although there really doesn’t appear to be a one-size-fits-all app out there, we’ll profile several that you can use in tandem or alone to fit your needs.
The first app I wanted to mention is Caring Village. It is free and available for both Apple and Android phones. It also has an online dashboard if you prefer working from a computer.
The application allows you to set up a community, or “village,” for your loved one that includes calendars, to-do lists, a journal, a medication list, a secure messaging feature and a place for documents. As the administrator, you can assign different roles for people you allow to join, which determines their level of access to the information.
Here are some things I thought that were interesting about the app:
- Members – You can ask members to add a photo to their profile so you know who they are. You may not know what your father’s colleague at work looks like. The first time he offers to drive him to the doctor, you can take a quick pic or ask him to upload his photo.
- Wellness Journal – This allows you or others to add a few notes each day (or whenever) about how your loved one is doing. It also allows photographs. When your loved one’s health changes constantly, this could be a helpful tool to keep things accurate.
- Medication List – This would be especially useful when medications are changing or your loved one moves between care facilities. You need to keep track of inventory and expiration dates. Photos are allowed here as well.
- Calendar and To Do Lists. The calendar is nice for the “village” to know of upcoming doctor appointments or procedures or if volunteer items are needed. The To Do Lists have reminder alerts for you and can be delegated to others (ask for a volunteer) for assistance.
It would be a good idea to consider overall how you intend to use the dashboard/app. Even with the most restricted level of membership (“Friends”), there is a great deal of access to the app’s information. For example, if you plan to load sensitive documents to the site (e.g., doctor’s notes from a recent appointment, Durable Power of Attorney, etc.), you may not want a neighbor who offered to drive your husband to the pharmacy to see that information. You either have to choose not to use the document feature or restrict who becomes a member. There is helpful chart in the Help Center about Role Access.
Have you used the Caring Village app? If so, what was your experience?
Caring Village, LLC does not sponsor You Don’t Have to Join the Circus (to my knowledge) and was not aware of this post prior to today.