There are lots of ways to use everyday technology to make your life easier, including some really simple ideas that you probably haven’t even thought of but could start doing today.
Here are some ideas:
Get your shopping done
Avoid queues, wonky-wheeled trolleys and carrying heavy bags simply by sitting at your computer with a cup of tea and ordering your weekly shopping. All the major supermarkets offer delivery for online orders and lots of smaller independent retailers are getting in on the act too. You can also often set up a standard online shopping list which you start with for each shop – so you don’t need to spend time adding all the basics every time you do a new shop.
Deal with doctors and get your patient record online
You can now get online services, including your own patient summary record. If you get signed up to online services via your GP practice, then you can book appointments, order repeat prescriptions and see some of your patient record such as allergies, medication and test results. In some areas, patient records show much more. Every surgery offers these basic services, so ask how you can get yours. We’ve got more information here.
In some areas technology is even being used for remote consultations carried out using email or webcam, reducing the need for GP or hospital visits.
Get calendar wise
Use group emails or shared group calendars to coordinate care with other people in your family or network – this way everyone can be kept in the loop in one go, rather than having to contact different people individually. Services like Google, Yahoo and iCal are free to use.
Alternatively you can use more sophisticated care co-ordination tools which also include features like ‘to do’ lists and essential contacts. Carers UK has launched its very own care co-ordination app, Jointly, which will help make caring just that little bit easier.
Bring the family closer
These days many families are scattered around the country. Use free services like Skype to video-call your relatives, or use Facetime if you have an Apple device. Face to face contact – even at a distance - can feel more personal than a phone call. As a carer you can discuss appointments and plan care with other family members, even having several people on screen at once for a conference call. Or the person you care for could use it to stay connected with family and friends that don’t live so close.
Applications such as Skype have made a lot of difference …absolutely transformative, now mum can talk to family and friends. She talks to her grandchildren and my brother who live abroad. She feels wonderful after that and it makes a huge difference in her day.
Connect with other carers
If it feels like no one understands what you’re going through it can be reassuring to know there are thousands more out there who do!
Join Carers UK’s online forum so you can get support, share advice, rant or moan, laugh or cry with others who understand – it’s free to all our members. Use social media like Facebook and Twitter to connect with others who know what you’re going through. And some workplaces now offer ‘virtual’ networks to support their employees who are caring, providing information but also an opportunity to share experiences and offer support.
Do a course
Online training or courses can be ideal for busy carers who are unable to get out of the home. Carers UK has developed About Me, an online resource that helps carers look after themselves and build resilience. Or try over 600 free online learning courses from the Open University. Topics range from ‘you and your money’ to the history of the Olympic Games!
Get some gizmos and gadgets
The world is full of amazing gizmos to make life easier, many of which have been designed with disability or age in mind. In addition to home adaptations like grab rails and hoists, kitchen gadgets like ringpull openers, two-handled cups, tap turners and kettle tippers can make life easier. Riser recliner chairs can offer comfort and central heating control systems can make it easier to control your heat - and your bills! See more in our section on equipment.
Gizmos and gadgets can also be powered by technology – smoke and gas detectors, alarms and sensors are now familiar in health and care, but today we also have wearable technology that discreetly gives reassurance at home or when people are out and about. From simple mobile apps to complex sensor systems, there are already many products available to make life a little easier. See more in our section on technology and care services.
Carers UK has a partnership with social business Unforgettable, which was founded by a carer and aims to create a vibrant marketplace for products and services designed to help people to cope better with dementia.