Technologies That Can Help, Part 1 (Medication & Driving)
In this week’s blog, we discuss some available technologies that can help improve the safety of individuals with Mild Cognitive Impairment. This topic of how technology can help the caregiver will be broken up into two parts. You will be invited to share in the comments section any other tips or technologies that you found to be helpful!
The primary audience for this blog is the a partner or caregiver. However, individuals with MCI are encouraged to read this and discuss any ideas that interest them with their partner. And, it is better to try to learn something new now, just in case the cognitive impairment worsens in the future.
For those who are not comfortable with technology, consider enlisting the help of a tech-savvy friend or relative – or just about anyone under the age of 30 – for a tutorial or to set up everything for you. Professional services are also available.
The safety of our loved ones with MCI can become a serious concern. A partner may find themselves asking questions such as:
- Is my loved one able to independently manage their medications?
- Should my loved one refrain from driving on the road?
The “Big Three” safety topics we like to address are medication safety, driving safety, and financial safety. These involve high stakes situations in which we need to be very careful. In addition to improving overall safety, technologies can enable our loved ones to function more independently for longer. Let’s talk about ways technology can help.
Pillboxes. If your loved one is currently managing their medications and doesn’t yet have a pillbox for their multiple medicines, consider getting one. Pillboxes can have multiple compartments and accommodate taking pills 2 or 3 times a day. If your loved one doesn’t use a smartphone, consider a pillbox that has a built-in alarm to remind when to take the pills. If your loved one uses a smartphone, consider setting reminders (in their day planner or on their phone) to use in conjunction with their pillbox.
Full-service mail order pharmacies. Once you provide your current prescriptions, they will send you all your pills each month sorted by day and time in little packets. Sometimes they can also include your over-the-counter supplements and vitamins.
Online Patient Portals. Consider registering for an online patient account if this is available to your loved one. These “patient portals” typically allow patients to see a comprehensive list of current medications, dosages, refills, upcoming and past appointments, bills, test results, and visit summaries. If you communicate with your physician’s office through this portal, you then also have a written record of the messages. If you loved one isn’t comfortable with computers, you can print out the information on paper for them. They Mayo Patient Portal can be accessed here.
GPS. Using a GPS navigation system while driving can free up the cognitive resources that you otherwise would have spent on finding your way. This allows the driver to devote more energy to things like visual attention and reacting on the road. If your loved one is driving and not using GPS, reconsider. GPS is widely available and has become much more user-friendly over the last few years. Set up their GPS to give voice instructions, make sure that the system has a stable place in the car in the driver’s view, and save common driving destinations into the system (e.g., home, work, doctor’s office) to make everything easy for your loved one to utilize. And, you and your loved one should promise to only fiddle with the GPS when the car is parked!
App-based ride services. These smartphone-based transport services are essentially taxi services, but less expensive than traditional taxis. Here’s how it works: Download the app, open an account, link a credit card, and enter where you want to go. You will then get an estimate on how long it would take for the driver to get to you and how much the ride will cost. If you confirm the order, you’ll receive the driver’s first name, their picture, make/model of their car, license plate, and an alert when your driver is almost there.
Did you know you can order app-based ride services for others (such as your loved one) to get a ride? And, you can track the location of the driver (and your loved one) in real time? You also can pay/tip the driver from your phone – so money never exchanges hands. Just remember to be always be safe – don’t ever get in a car before confirming the car’s license plate!
In next week’s blog we will discuss how technology can help with financial responsibilities, and how tracking devices, smartphone apps, and “smart home” hubs can help make life easier by, for example, helping with finding misplaced important items.
We invite you to share any experiences you have had with a technology or product that you recommend (or don’t recommend) for helping with medication or driving safety, in the comments below! Have you found a way to use a technology that really helps your loved one? Is there a new product or service that you want to tell us about? We suggest you use this format in the comments:
- Technology/Product Name:
- What it’s supposed to do:
- Your experience: