How tech can relieve caregiver burnout
Being a caregiver can feel not only like a full time job, but even all consuming of one’s life. There are daily commitments as another person’s well being depends on you; not to mention the emergencies to respond to. Many caregivers are looking after their loved ones, so it is both physically and emotionally demanding to see a person you’re close to in poor health.
Who cares for the caregiver? Photo: Unsplash.com
Indeed, an August 2022 Straits Times article reported that over half of caregivers who took part in a survey said they were “burdened” and “barely coping”.
As tech becomes increasingly important in society, it is also fortunately providing some much needed support for caregivers. Here are five ways that tech is relieving burnout among those caring for someone else.
Dementia Friends app
Sometimes we just need to talk to and get together with others who are in a similar situation and truly understand what we’re going through.
The Dementia Friends app connects caregivers of people with dementia. There are regular events for caregivers to share resources, provide support, and just lend a listening ear. They can also turn to the app to submit a case if a loved one with dementia is missing. The app’s 12,000 users will see the open cases and can submit the location of recent sightings if they think they’ve spotted the missing person.
There are also “safe-return” points where members of the public can take lost people with dementia.
The Healthhub site provides a platform of resources for caregiving support to learn more about costs and findings, grants, find support groups and get caregiving tips. There are also resources on caregiver training and self pcare](https://www.healthhub.sg/a-z/support-groups-and-others/11/caregiver-training).
There are also a host of e-services where caregivers can retrieve the health records of their loved ones, enabling them to cut red tape when dealing with administrative matters.
They can also request for medication refills for repeat prescriptions by logging in through Singpass and have the medicine delivered. This saves the caregivers periodic trips to the clinic or hospital and saves them precious time to catch a breather.
Mindline.sg is a site that provides tools and tips to manage your health and wellbeing.
One of the options you can choose is “I need caregiving support”. You’ll be directed to various resources such as mindfulness exercises you can do to feel better.
There is also an AI chatbot that performs different functions. For instance, it can simply provide a listening ear should you have no one to talk to. Or you can help you organise the tasks you have for the day and come up with a plan for you.
One silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic is discovering digital ways to carry on with our day to day lives
Seeing a doctor was one of the tasks that seemed to be possible only in person. But telehealth, or telemedicine, has risen in popularity in recent years. Through video calls, the health care professional can assess the condition of the patient and prescribe the necessary medicine and treatment.
Patients can get medical help from the comfort of their own homes and save precious time and money that would otherwise be spent commuting to and fro the medical facility. This also means the caregivers hopefully have more time and resources for some self-care
For patients who have suffered conditions like stroke, brain and spinal cord injuries, rehabilitation is key to them regaining control over their bodies. Caregivers have to regularly assist patients in performing exercises, tying them to a schedule and requiring significant physical exertion on their parts.
Hospitals in Singapore have been using rehabilitative robots to aid patients in their recovery and regaining motor functions.
For instance, H-Man – a first-of-its-kind portal artificial intelligence robot – helps stroke patients go through therapy for their upper limbs. It has training exercises in the form of video games to engage the user in improving their arm and hand strength and dexterity. It can also evaluate patients’ performance and send feedback to therapists wirelessly.
There are also robots that assist patients in walking. Patients using the Lokomat are strapped into a specially designed treadmill that can support varying amounts of their body weight. This enables patients to intensify their walking practice, going up to 1,000 steps within 30 minutes instead of 100 steps in a conventional therapy session. Another advanced device is the Ekso, a wearable exoskeleton. It uses programmable electric motors to assist legs to walk in a normal gait. Patients on Ekso can walk longer distances with the help of just one therapist instead of several.
Caregivers need self-care
With Singapore’s rapidly aging population, the number of people requiring care will increase, meaning more people will be under pressure as caregivers.
At the end of the day, caregivers need their me-time and pay attention for some self-care. Hopefully, as technology progresses, greater amounts of load can be taken off them and be handled by machines and software instead.
It’s the least they deserve.https://www.tech.gov.sg/media/technews/how-tech-can-relieve-caregiver-burnout