Technology and Cancer
At work, I spend a good portion of my day on the computer. The last thing I want to do when I get home at night is sign on again. However, when I was one of the primary caregivers for a family member, technology became not only a time saver, but also an emotional support tool.
When my father-in-law was going through treatment for AML, he ended up being hospitalized about 100 miles away from his home community. Many of his long-time friends and distant family members were not able to travel to see him but were understandably concerned about his health status. This prompted tons of emails and phone calls asking for updates as well as wanting to express loving concern. After trying to keep up with these overwhelming communication requests, I finally set up a Caring Bridge site and sent the link out to a mass distribution list of family and friends. When returning home at the end of each day, I would take about 15 minutes and write a Caring Bridge entry that would include any new updates with the treatment plan, the highlights of the day and thoughts that my father-in-law wanted to share with all those who were offering support. The next morning, we would print off the new comments that had been posted, bring them up to the hospital room and read him the words of encouragement people had shared. It was a beautiful ritual…having an evening quiet time to reflect and share the important moments of the day, and the morning reading of well wishes and admiration for the way his life had made an impact on theirs. It felt healing and sacred for us as a family, and cathartic for me as the journal writer.
I have heard other ways that people have utilized technology when they are in a caregiver role. One person told me they used it to Skype or Facetime with distance relatives. Another caregiver said they would be lost without their health tracker tool for appointments, medication reminders, insurance, etc.
There have been times when I have complained about the seemingly constant need to be engaged with technology but I will also admit sometimes using technology means caregiver support is as close as our fingertips. Members of Mayo Clinic Connect find it helpful to connect with others caring for family members in the Caregivers group.
Are you using technology to help with all the demands of caregiving? What has been most helpful for you?