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I have no doubt that tech of all kinds will play an ever-growing role in how we provide and receive care. The challenges posed by demographic change happen to be rising just as we come into possession of new tools and services that will make navigating the complexity of aging much easier.

- Dr. Joe Coughlin, Director of the MIT AgeLab

You’ve seen the cycle with friends. Their parents became frail and now need help doing basic things around the house, scheduling their transportation, and keeping track of meds. Your friends are concerned about their parent’s ability to live safely on their own. They tell you about technology that’s helped them with caregiving. You listen politely and put it in the back of your mind. That’s not your situation—not yet.


First, Caregiving Can Come as a Surprise

The kids are gone—and your house is your own again. But your father-in-law in Florida dies suddenly, leaving a wife who has never written a check or driven on her own. Or a family get-together reveals just how frail your parents have become—and you weren’t aware or ready for how bad the situation has become. But your busy siblings rely on you to make decisions. Your aging family member needs you. Without training or preparation, you have become one of America’s 34 million unpaid family caregivers. It’s going to take lots of time and energy.1


You May Not Even Consider Yourself a Caregiver

More than 80% of surveyed caregivers say they don’t see themselves as caregivers.1 But if they checked out the definition, they’d realize that it’s talking about their situation: “Family caregivers are responsible for the physical, emotional, and, often, financial support of another person, who is unable to care for him/herself due to illness, injury, or disability.” It’s simple. Your family member cannot manage life without help.


Second, Technology Can Help Family Caregivers

You remember how your friends told you how they used technology to navigate the growing demands of caregiving. And now you’re wondering if tech can help you. Technology can be useful, depending on the status of your loved one’s level of independence. It can help meet needs ranging from home safety to coordinating complex care.


I have no doubt that tech of all kinds will play an ever-growing role in how we provide and receive care. The challenges posed by demographic change happen to be rising just as we come into possession of new tools and services that will make navigating the complexity of aging much easier.

- Dr. Joe Coughlin, Director of the MIT AgeLab

How Technology Can Help As Caregiving Becomes More Complex


As care needs evolve, different technology categories become more important. At the beginning your clients may only want to know that their family member is safely home. Over time, especially with those who show signs of dementia, they may want to introduce a tracking wearable (mobile personal emergency response system) that can be worn when their loved one goes out alone.

Technology Can Help You Find Care

If you determine that you need some help with caregiving, there are two steps you’ll likely need to take:

  1. Assess your loved one’s needs: Write down your loved one’s needs, expectations, and any doctor’s recommendations
  2. Find a caregiver: There are a variety of ways to find a caregiver, including using agencies, registries, friends and family recommendations, or caregiving websites (see table below).

A life care manager can help navigate which care services can match their needs. Some care services, such as adult day/respite centers, must be researched locally, along with meal delivery, housecleaning, and home repair.

Identifies types and sources of care, including agencies, registries, and considerations about each

Google “AARP How to Hire a Caregiver”

Robust listing of resources by care type, reviews


Independent in-home workers (sign up to search), reviews


Independent in-home workers (sign up to see caregivers), reviews


Transportation options including remote and phone request, medical rides to doctor appointments

Google “AARP Transportation: What Caregivers Need to Know”


Tech Can Help You Monitor Care Remotely

If your parents don’t want to move, and they don’t want a home-care worker in the house just yet, technology in the home can help. Once your parent’s place is set up with high-speed internet and Wi-Fi, you can use technology to help manage care remotely. If your parent has a smartphone, they can have a smart doorbell app, such as Ring, in which they (or you, using the same app) can see who is at the door before answering it. In addition, technology can help you as the caregiver be better organized and more responsive to care needs.

Get home set up with network, Wi-Fi, devices, including security cameras, smart home, and smart doorbells

Best Buy’s Geek Squad, Assured Living, and HelloTech

Tech to remotely monitor in-home care

aeyesafe.com, alarm.com, restassured.com, lorex.com/pages/elderly-monitoring-solutions

Tech to organize caregiving tasks, coordinate calendar assignments with other family members, track medical info, track medications, and manage activities of daily living (ADLs)

For families: Lotsa Helping Hands, CareZone, CaringBridge, Drugs.com, and WebMd.com


Tech Can Enrich Care

The technology below can help loved ones with hearing or vision problems. You’ll find phone and computer displays for people with limited vision. For hearing problems, you’ll find a broad array of hearing aids, sound amplifiers, and new hearing devices that are more affordable than traditional hearing aids. Plus, they’re more attractive.

Voice-activated technology—like smart speakers and voice assistants—can be very helpful as well as engaging to an individual living alone. These devices can tell your loved one the time, play their favorite music, or even read them a Kindle book. And being able to turn on the lights or change the room temperature can make life easier for someone who has difficulty walking.

For limited vision



OrCam.com, esighteyeware.com, irisvision.com including screen readers, computers, and smartphones

For limited hearing

Hearing aids: Phonak Audéo Lumity, Signia Silk X, Widex Moment

Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids: Jabra Enhance, Lexie, Eargo

For quality of life, including playing music, reading books, managing calendars, getting reminders, and checking in with family—all by using your voice and that of your loved one

Amazon Echo Google Nest Apple HomePod

For home automation—managing and controlling temperature, lights, home alarm and smart doorbells

Google “NYT How to make your house a smart home”

Third, Helping Your Loved One Avoid That Dreaded Move to Senior Living

Often, parents don’t want to move to a nursing home. Family caregivers can hire workers to help with care, transportation, and even the Activities of Daily Living (ADLs). You can find tech changes that would make it a safer place, including automatic thermostat controls, stove shut-off products, and smart door alarms that show who’s at the door before answering.

If your parents don’t have a smartphone, maybe it’s time to get one since they can control most of this technology. And designate a trusted friend or family member to help your parents learn how to use it. At some point, nursing home care may be needed, but technology can help push back that need.

Various people may be able to help caregivers determine when and if a loved one must move to a nursing home, including family members, a primary care doctor, a life care manager, a social worker, and an occupational therapist.


In the Beginning, You’ll Probably Wonder if You Can Even Do This

Your focus on your loved one’s needs will guide you past the “hair on fire” stage of caregiving by forming a deliberate plan of care. It can be stressful for all concerned, but you can do it.

If in-home equipment is necessary, you can get in-person or online help if needed to make sure it’s set up correctly. You can ensure that automated alerts are directed to the right place, that cameras, if used, are operational and regularly checked, and that the other basics of in-home tech infrastructure are up to date and working.


Author Headshot

Laurie is a tech industry veteran, writer, speaker, and founder of Aging in Place Technology Watch. She conducts market research, follows trends, and writes reports about technologies and services that enable boomers and seniors to remain longer in their home of choice.

Next Steps

1 Call a family meeting. Ask family members to read about how to design a personal care plan.
2 Look at tools like CareZone (managing healthcare) or Lotsa Helping Hands (family task sharing). Then create a plan of care together.
3 Determine what technology may be the most helpful in today’s situation. Agree on who will do what to improve safety, care, and connection in the home. Then get to work.


Check out these 6 tips for grandparents >


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1Caregiving in the U.S. 2020, National Alliance for Caregiving, 2020.

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