News / Science & Technology

Mobile App Helps Alzheimer’s Caregivers

This undated image provided by Merck & Co., shows a cross section of a normal brain (right) and one of a brain damaged by advanced Alzheimer's disease, December 3, 2012This undated image provided by Merck & Co., shows a cross section of a normal brain (right) and one of a brain damaged by advanced Alzheimer's disease, December 3, 2012
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This undated image provided by Merck & Co., shows a cross section of a normal brain (right) and one of a brain damaged by advanced Alzheimer's disease, December 3, 2012
This undated image provided by Merck & Co., shows a cross section of a normal brain (right) and one of a brain damaged by advanced Alzheimer's disease, December 3, 2012
Jessica Berman
Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease can be stressful.  Patients with the degenerative brain condition have a host of medical needs that can require the services of numerous health care professionals.  Even for the most organized caregiver, keeping track of all that medical information can be a challenge.  Now a new piece of mobile software provides a helping hand.  

Alzheimer’s disease, a form of dementia, is generally a condition of old age.  Since people are living longer all over the world, the number of Alzheimer’s parents and grandparents in their 70s, 80s and 90s is expected to triple in some countries by the middle of the century. 

Increasingly, family members are being called upon to assist in the care of loved ones with Alzheimer's, a complex and difficult task that many people find themselves unprepared for.  That is why the Hebrew Home, a privately-run geriatric care organization in Riverdale, New York, developed a new iPhone and iPad application called Balance. 

The $4 App, which can be purchased online, offers caregivers helpful information about Alzheimer’s, including tips on getting a reliable diagnosis of the condition, recognizing its symptoms, and managing routine daily care of the Alzheimer’s patient, such as feeding, bathing and hygiene. 

Balance is the brainchild of Hebrew Home's program development director, David Pomeranz.  He says the app also displays the latest news about research into the causes and treatment of Alzheimer's disease - all with the aim of helping those caring for Alzheimer's patients.

"It is not easy and we hope this will make it a little easier for people," he said.

The Hebrew Home is a not-for-profit organization that provides care, mostly in community-based settings, to 75,000 patients with Alzheimer’s disease throughout the metropolitan New York City area.

"We are dealing with their family members because as a philosophy, we feel that we need to care for the caregiver equally in our [response to the] care needs [of] the client themselves, since if the caregiver does not have the proper supports, they simply cannot be a caregiver," Pomeranz said.

He says the Balance software is designed to let the user organize medical and other information so they can easily keep tracks of the health status of their patient.  It allows caregivers to manage doctors’ appointments in real time and share information with physicians on the patient's daily mood swings.

As if to underscore that Alzheimer's is a global health issue, Pomeranz says the App is being downloaded by caregivers all over the world.

"It has been interesting to see that we have had apps purchased [in countries] from Egypt to the Netherlands to Greece.  It is like the United Nations every day, to see where people are buying this," he said.

Pomeranz says software developers are working on a version of Balance for mobile devices using the Android operating system.

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