Photo: Flickr/Creative Commons, Johan Larrson.

The number of Canadians providing informal care to a family member or friend is staggering. There are more than eight million people fulfilling that role, according to the Canadian Caregiver Coalition. As our country’s population ages, caregivers are turning to their smartphones to keep track of medication, doctors’ appointments, or simply asking for a hand with a home-cooked meal.

Looking after a loved-one involves a wide-ranging array of decisions. To help make them as efficiently and easily as possible, these six innovative apps aim to simplify the process and expand the circle of support for caregivers:

CareZone

CareZone lets you organize health information in one secure place online. The app offers many functions, including setting reminders to take medication or refill prescriptions. Carers can also journal symptoms, make notes during doctors’ appointments and then share journal notes privately in real time with other family members. The app has a function to import details of prescriptions by taking a photo with your phone. CareZone also provides timely news and tips on health topics relevant to you and your family.

The app is free of charge and available on the App Store and Google Play.

Huddol

Created by a Montreal-based company, Huddol is a social health network for caregivers. The app is the first cross-disease, cross-platform, bilingual social health network that aims to assist caregivers navigate their journey by drawing on the real-world experience and insights of other caregivers and healthcare experts.

Huddol starts with encouraging caregivers to define their situation and needs. Based on this needs, Huddol builds a custom network of care around the caregiver, linking them to those best equipped to help. The app lets you connect with other people, so you can build your own support system, share your experiences with others who truly understand where you’re coming from and stay up-to-date with caregiving news. Huddol also hosts discussions on particular health concerns, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

The app is free of charge and currently only available on the App Store.

Lotsa Helping Hands

Lotsa Helping Hands is essentially a care calendar, where caregivers can connect with their circle of support. The app creates a space where carers can ask for – and coordinate – help for the person they are caring for.

The app allows you create your own community and invite family and friends to participate. You can request a helping hand on the calendar with such tasks as meal deliveries or rides to appointments and errands, then assign coordinators. The app allows you to update everyone in your designated circle through personal blogs and photos. The Lotsa Helping Hands app also features inspirational stories of other caregivers.

The app is free of charge and available on Google Play and the App Store.

Promenade

Created by brother and sister team, Alexis Liddell and Chris Benoit, Promenade is designed to make visiting people with dementia enjoyable for everyone. Liddell works as a therapeutic recreationist and saw firsthand the daily struggle for families affected by dementia. This iPad-app designed as a reminiscence therapy tool. Reminiscence therapy is known to improve mood and brings a person back to a time they know and understand.

The app’s photos provide visual cues designed to trigger memories. Promenade presents groups of photographs based on subjects selected by the user, such as gardening or cooking, along with a list of questions created to spark conversation. The app also comes preloaded with jazz and classical music, as well as a list of communication tips for caregivers and family, provided by the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada.

Promenade is available at the App Store for iPads and costs $6.99.

Medisafe

Medisafe is a pill reminder and medication tracker app. The app is easy to navigate and it’s ‘virtual pillbox’ is segmented into four quadrants, so you know what pills have been taken and what is next. You can also add appointments, a diary note to keep track of medical data like blood pressure or glucose, or doctors’ contact details. Medisafe also provides information on any medications prescribed. It is HIPAA (U.S. legislation called the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) compliant to protect users’ sensitive health data.

App is free of charge. Available at the App Store and Google Play.

Elizz

Though not strictly an app, Elizz is an online portal developed by Saint Elizabeth Health Care, a award-winning, not-for-profit health care organization based in Markham, Ont. The site allows carers to arrange virtual check ups, in-home help and feature online resources for carers, including caregiving tips, self-care and videos. Elizz also offers Caregiver Coaching services across Canada ($25 for 30 minutes), where their experts will build a personalized caregiving plan tailored to your needs. In-home services are also offered, whether it’s help with meal preparation, light housekeeping, laundry, engaging and visiting the person in your care. The site also features articles geared to caregivers. Topics have included what to do when an aging parent refuses help, handing caregiver guilt and at-home foot care.

Visit their website for more information.