Keeping an eye on your health

Technology will help ease the physical stresses of caregiving.

There once was a time you easily handled everything life threw your way. A high-powered career; an online MBA; three kids, a husband and a dog and a four-bedroom house.
 
But fast forward 15 years, and your former unflappable self is anything but serene.

Caring for your aging parents has left you with a cascade of increasingly complex caregiving duties.

How stress affects your heart

Now, you’re so stressed out it’s playing havoc with your weight, your sleep, and maybe even your heart. As this article from the University of Rochester points out, studies suggest long-term stress can increase your risk factors for heart disease — and caregivers feel this stress in a real way. In fact, caregivers report chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes at nearly twice the rate of non-caregivers . (Study of Caregivers in Decline: A Close-up Look at the Health Risks of Caring for a Loved One, National Alliance for Caregiving & Evercare, 2006) 
 
Looking out for self with technology

Tech is increasingly saving time, and promoting healthy living

As a caregiver myself, I knew I needed to eat right and exercise more so that I could be there for Mom and Dad. I too was worried that caregiving stress was compromising my physical health. After doing some research I found that technology could help with my stress management, as outlined in my Stress: Life + Informal Caregiving post. But I didn’t stop there — I also use technology to streamline my caregiving responsibilities as well as track my nutrition and exercise and gather data like heart rate so that I can monitor my own health changes before they become health crises.

While considering my own heart health, I found some intriguing apps and wearables that have recently emerged, like the Cardiogram app that screens for abnormal heart rhythm and high blood pressure. Then too, there’s the AliveCor KardiaBand, which evaluates the relationship between your heart rate ranges and activity levels, letting you record a 30-second EKG if there’s a problem. AIso in the works is a 3-D printed case attached to the back of a smartphone that can measure high blood pressure, according to a 2018 research article in Science Translational Medicine.

A cautionary note

Although technology can be the best friend of any stressed-out caregiver, do take caution when choosing products. As The Verge’s recent Tech companies are targeting heart disease — here’s how article points out, measuring health is a tricky business — so before buying any gadget, make sure it’s accurate for managing heart disease.

That same advice applies when it comes to buying apps and devices for the remote monitoring of your loved ones. Consider an integrated multi-faceted app that can help you keep track of everything from medication reminders to arranging doctors’ appointments and coordinating tasks with your care circle. The less time you spend fiddling around with a piecemeal of gadgets, the more time you can spend keeping your self in shape.