How do mobile apps help caregivers?

USC Leonard Davis study analyzes what kinds of applications are available for users caring for loved ones.

One moment, you’re liking posts and sharing your avocado toast on Instagram. The next, you’re managing the medications and doctor appointments of your loved one.

Recognizing the power of our devices, USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology Professor Elizabeth Zelinski, PhD candidate Mollie Grossman and project specialist Deanah Zak wanted to assess the ability of mobile apps to assist caregivers.

The team recently published a study in JMIR mHealth and uHealth on the availability of apps serving caregivers. After searching on iTunes and Google Play for apps targeting caregivers, the researchers identified their functions, which ranged from providing practical problem-solving strategies for older adults to allowing coordination between multiple caregivers. They aimed to learn about what apps already existed on the market and which ones exhibited best practices for caregiving assistance on the go.

Apps for caregivers can help ease the difficulties of caring for older adults. However, the study found that the apps largely lack tools for emotional support for caregivers. Functions such as stress-reduction exercises could improve both the caregiving process and the care older adults receive, the authors said.