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Supporting Caregivers with Tech

As tech increasingly underpins and drives innovation across all areas of life, it can also provide vital assistance for caregivers. Estimates indicate there are over 210,000 caregivers in Singapore. The Survey On Informal Caregiving by the Ministry of Social and Family Development found that, on average, caregivers spend 38 hours per week caring for or ensuring care for care recipients.

The report acknowledges that the negative impact of caregiving on the health and work of the caregivers has been well-documented.

Knowing that someone’s care is your responsibility is tough in and of itself. But catering to and dealing with emergencies and unplanned-for situations adds to the weight.  The role can often become – or feel – like a full-time job and be overwhelming.

Caregivers for those with mental health issues are a prime example. Singapore’s first national survey on caregivers by the Singapore Management University was eye-opening

Caregivers of persons with mental health issues including dementia: 75% (or 3 in 4) expressed a need for temporary separation from the person they care for. More than 72% also said caring for a person with mental health issues makes them tired and exhausted.

Here are five ways that tech is relieving burnout among those caring for someone else.

Dementia Friends app

The Dementia Friends app connects caregivers of people with dementia. Their events allow caregivers to share resources, provide support and just lend a listening ear.

The app can be used to help in locating someone with dementia who is missing. The app’s 12,000 users can see the open cases and input possible recent sightings. “Safe-return” points are available where members of the public can take lost people with dementia.

Healthhub

The site offers a plethora of resources where caregivers can find information on costs, reports and findings, grants, support groups, as well as also resources on caregiver training and self-care.

A host of e-services allows caregivers to retrieve health records to ease administrative procedures. Medication refills for repeat prescriptions can be done by logging in through Singpass and having the medicine delivered.

Telehealth/telemedicine

One silver lining of the pandemic is discovering digital ways to carry on with our day-to-day lives. Telehealth, or telemedicine, is one such area that has grown exponentially in this new normal. Patients can get medical help through video calls, where the healthcare professional can assess the condition of the patient and prescribe the necessary medicine and treatment.

Mindline

Mindline.sg is a site that provides tools and tips to manage health and well-being with an “I need caregiving support” option that leads to various resources such as mindfulness exercises.

Its AI chatbot performs a variety of functions including offering a listening ear should for people who have no one to talk to. It can help organise tasks for the day and generate an efficient plan.

Rehabilitation robots

Hospitals in Singapore have been using rehabilitative robots to aid patients in their recovery and regain motor functions.

H-Man (a first-of-its-kind portal artificial intelligence robot) helps stroke patients go through therapy for their upper limbs. It has training exercises in the form of video games to engage the user in improving their arm and hand strength and dexterity. It can also evaluate patients’ performance and send feedback to therapists wirelessly.

Patients using the Lokomat are strapped into a specially designed treadmill that can support varying amounts of their body weight. This enables patients to intensify their walking practice, going up to 1,000 steps within 30 minutes instead of 100 steps in a conventional therapy session.

Ekso, a wearable exoskeleton, uses programmable electric motors to assist legs to walk with a normal gait. Patients on Ekso can walk longer distances with the help of just one therapist instead of several.

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