Technology and Dignity/Independence – It’s Complex

Posted on February 01, 2011 by Suzanne Gregory

By Tim Dutton, Executive Director of SCOPE

United Healthcare just released the findings of a study of the technological preferences of 1000 family caregivers who already use the internet or other technology to help them with caregiving. This survey conducted in November 2010, reveals some preferences and some promise. The three technologies that are at the top of the list are:

  • Personal health record tracking – integrated history of symptoms, meds, results, etc.
  • Caregiving coordination systems – electronic log for appointments, etc.
  • Medication support system – reminder system for meds

The primary obstacle to any of these technologies or others on the list of twelve in the report was perception of the costs related to any technological solution.

This speaks specifically to the caregivers desires. Over the past several years I have had a chance to talk with a number of older adults about the relationship between older adult and caregiver. It is not unusual for the older adult to express concern over technology having a negative impact on their dignity by increasing the need to explain themselves to distant caregivers. The application of any technological solution will require a careful look at this issue.


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