14 Free or Low-Cost Caregiver Apps for 2021

Updated

Certified Care Manager, Aging Life Care Professional, and National Master Guardian Emeritus

Apps are big business, with the Apple and Google Play app stores accounting for almost five million apps. As family and professional caregiving grows to meet the demands of an aging population, apps are being developed to help with managing healthcare documents as well as reinforcing caregivers’ self-care habits.

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People are on the go, and busy family and professional caregivers use their phones more and more to manage not only the lives of their clients and their loved ones but their own as well. Communication is a critical piece of caregiving, regardless of the recipient. Hiring caregivers is now getting easier through sophisticated apps that allow you to vet and review potential caregivers.

What Should You Look for in a Great Caregiver Mobile App?

One of the challenges with apps is all of the choices. Search for any subject in the App Store or Google Play, and you will see what we mean. As caregiving gains more attention, companies are taking note and developing apps to help you organize, plan, and hire. Knowing what you want and need in an app can help you select the best one.

It might be necessary to do some trial and error, with you trying a couple before landing on the right one. Or, as your caregiver duties change, you may want to eliminate one app and try another or use two or more.

Ease of use

If an app is complicated to use, it will be frustrating. The interface should be clear, colorful, and take you where you want to go without a lot of steps. You should quickly find out whether the app is too complicated, but give yourself a little time for the inevitable learning curve.

Sometimes an app will look confusing to start, but once you become familiar, it is a breeze. And an app should be usable on both iPhone and Android.

Does it do what you want it to?

If an app includes options and tasks that you don’t need, it will only be confusing and frustrating. Try to prioritize what your needs are now and the features you anticipate needing. You may want one app to store important documents like advance directives, medications, trusts, and wills.

On the other hand, you might need a scheduling app that lets other family members know when your loved one’s appointments are. Make a list of the essential features to you, then look for an app or apps that meet your needs. 

Ratings and reviews

Ratings and reviews can give you an idea of the strengths and weaknesses of a particular app. If an app only has a few reviews, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t practical. You just won’t have as much information to decide. The App Store is a good place to see these reviews, but you can also do an online search.

Speed

If an app gets bogged down between screens and tasks, it defeats the purpose of providing you with a seamless and efficient experience. However, it may not always be the app itself, especially if you notice a recent problem with speed. You may need to install updates on your phone, and that will correct the problem.

Security

Security is a significant problem with mobile apps, and there may not be much you can do about it. If you are storing sensitive data, you might want to take some steps to assess the app you are using. Although your options are limited, one feature that is common when using apps is for the app to require multifactor identification.

This feature can make it harder for hackers to gain access to your information. Before you can access the app, a code will be sent to your phone number or to another application to confirm your identity. Other than that one feature, it might be hard to know how secure an app is except to investigate online or ask the company questions about security.

There is some evidence to suggest that the iPhone has better security features and more frequent updates than an Android. Also, Apple closely inspects every app in the App Store, which reduces the number of apps available, but helps to decrease malware-riddled apps.

Customer support

Customer support is a sticky issue because very few app programs will provide support via phone. For example, Join Honor has a phone number to call in case of problems or questions, but most apps have customer support online contact methods for resolving issues.

If you are having technical problems, this can get very frustrating depending on how long it takes for someone to get back to you. Most apps will have a help center with common questions or concerns that might address your specific problem.

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Popular Caregiver Apps for Hiring or Managing Caregivers

If you are hiring through a caregiving agency, you obviously will not need one of these apps unless family caregivers work with the agency caregiver. The agency will handle all aspects of hiring and managing caregivers. An agency will also conduct background and criminal background checks.

Deciding to hire a caregiver for in-home help on your own comes with responsibilities and liability. The best apps can offer background checks and other features to provide security, usually for a price. If they don’t, make sure you do background checks on anyone under consideration.

This list is far from exhaustive, and there are many other apps to check, but these companies are well-established, and some have been in business for years.

1. Care.com

Care.com is one of the largest and oldest running apps for hiring not just caregivers for seniors but pets, babysitting, housekeeping, and more. Although there is a free version of Care.com, the free version is restrictive. Caregivers post resumes, skills, and pay so that the consumer can shop for caregivers in their area.

Care.com also offers background checks through their CareCheck program that is required of all caregivers, but consumers are encouraged to run more complete checks on their own.

2. Join Honor

Join Honor is another platform that connects caregivers with consumers. The main downside is that they are not in all cities, so their availability is limited by the geographical areas they cover.

Caregivers who use Join Honor can work full-time or part-time and perform home-care tasks such as cooking, bathing, medication reminders, or exercise support. Honor caregivers receive access to the company's app, which they can view and apply to individual jobs. 

3. CareLinx

CareLinx is another app that pairs caregivers with consumers. Caregivers register for free and connect with families that are looking for care. The caregivers pay a fee for a background check.

This particular app makes money by providing payroll processing to families that want to hire caregivers. The site treats caregivers as employees of the client. That means caregivers earn at least minimum wage, and you both pay into the Social Security and Medicare systems on their behalf.

4. Caring Village

Caring Village allows you to create a “village” of caregivers, regardless whether the caregivers are family members or professional caregivers, or both. The caregiving group can communicate and coordinate care. The app also lets you assign tasks to certain people.

You can also use Caring Village to store important documents that you, and your caregivers, may need to access while caring for a loved one.

5. Caring Bridge

Caring Bridge is a free service that allows families to set up a site related to the care and condition of a loved one with private access. This app also allows you to connect with multiple caregivers to share responsibilities, schedules, and more.

Popular Caregiver Apps for Caregivers to Manage Clients or Client Activities

Caregiver apps for caregivers to manage clients grow in popularity as more people turn to hire professional caregivers outside an agency. For professional or family caregivers to better do their job, having an app to manage clients and client activities can be essential. Client care is constantly changing, and having a way to communicate changes to other caregivers provides continuity of care.

6. Lotsahelpinghands

Lotsahelpinghands creates a community of family, friends, and caregivers where you can post news and coordinate assistance for a loved one through a shared calendar.

Some of the key features include a schedule of activities so that people can volunteer to help, announcements, and a photo gallery.

7. Carezone

Carezone is a comprehensive app for managing caregiving duties with tools such as a calendar and health record keeping. It also includes a journal where the caregiver can record events, make suggestions, and coordinate healthcare. A tracker allows the caregiver to track healthcare and activity information. 

8. Dementia Talk

The Dementia Talk App works as a tool for caregivers to track behaviors and develop a care plan to manage their client’s or loved one’s symptoms.

It features a behavior tracker, a behavior care plan, and a sharing feature. Also included are a medication list and calendar.

9. Symple

Symple allows caregivers to track symptoms and activity levels. It also interfaces with an Apple Watch to record steps, heart rate, and other health data. You can record symptoms and other factors with ease.

Symple also allows you to create alerts and reminders for yourself to ensure you keep an ongoing record that can be exported to a .CSV file and emailed to a doctor or other family member.

Other Useful Apps That Let Caregivers Do Their Jobs

Other apps can help with medication management, first aid, and self-care for caregivers. Caregiver burnout can happen to anyone, so an app that can help caregivers stay healthy and stress-free is worth consideration.

10. Medisafe

Medisafe is a medication reminder app that also provides tips, refill reminders, progress reports, and discounted prescription offers.

The Medisafe drug database is comprehensive and contains both prescription and over-the-counter drugs. If your medication is not in the database, you can manually add the drug name yourself.

11. Insight Timer

Insight Timer has music, podcasts, and guided meditation to help with anxiety, depression and bring calm and focus to your work as a caregiver or family member.

Insight Timer allows you to search by session length, so if you have less than 5 minutes to meditate, you can search for that category. 

12. Happify

Happify reduces negative thoughts, worries, and helps you cope with stress. The app also has engaging games, activity suggestions, and gratitude prompts.

Their website claims that the program was designed with input from 18 health and happiness experts and is psychologist approved. 

13. First Aid: American Red Cross

Emergencies do happen, and calling 911 is the first step, but the American Red Cross app gives instructions on what to do immediately during an accident or illness.

14. Headspace

Another app for combating caregiver burnout, Headspace has articles and guided practice for sleep, financial stress, anxiety, and healthy habits like healthy cooking and exercise.

Caregiver Apps for Everyone

Caregiving is often a job that involves many people. You have family, professionals, and healthcare providers all working to ensure safe and reliable care for your loved one. Apps can bridge the gap and improve communication among everyone. Finding the one or ones that work best for you will take some effort but worth it in the end.

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