Health & Wellness

Technology for Families and Caregivers

By Joanne Fortunato

Caring for someone with MS can be a big responsibility with many unique challenges. Overlap can easily happen when there are multiple people, whether family members or professional caregivers, involved in caring for someone. The result could be problems with organizing medications, appointments, or several other tasks. There are two types of technology that can help. First, an app for sharing important medical information. Then, support sites for loved ones and anyone else entrusted with giving care.

One of the best ways to share information with others is an application called Care Zone. It can be used on mobile devices, such as a smartphone or tablet, or from any computer that has Internet access. While not geared specifically toward MS, it is comprehensive, easy to use, and, best of all, completely free.

To get started, all you need to do is download the app on your smartphone or tablet, or go to Have the person in need of care create an account or, if they are unable to, create one for them. The program allows you to easily store and share medication information, important contacts, and several other items. One person, often the primary caregiver, will act as the account administrator. Anyone else involved in caregiving can create an account as well. Once they are enrolled, they can have access to the care-receiver’s account. The administrator should set guidelines for use and can control with whom and how much information is shared among caregivers.

Take time to fully explore the program. Because it is so comprehensive, it may take a while to gather and enter the necessary information. Obviously, accuracy is important. As stated previously, guidelines should be set for use, especially guidelines for entering new information. The program is straightforward, but if you need help, there is a support page that can be accessed if you are using a computer. Whether you use Care Zone from a mobile device or a computer, your account is always protected by a password. The mobile app also has an extra security feature available. A special code can be required to access any extra sensitive information.

The Medication section of Care Zone is easy to use and helps keep very detailed information. As you type the name of a medication, a list of many common ones is accessed. However, specialty medications are not on the list and must be added manually. You can then enter other pertinent information, such as dose, time of day, purpose and prescribing doctor. Other sections of Care Zone include Journal, Contacts, Calendar, To-Dos, Notes, Photos and Files, and Profile. When used together, this will create a complete portfolio of all necessary information to aid in the care of the person with MS.

Care Zone is not the only program of its type. But the developers have responded to user input, making this one of the most useful ways to manage medical care. In today's confusing world of navigating your own care and that of loved ones, Care Zone is a welcome solution.

One aspect of caregiving that is often ignored or overlooked is burnout for caregivers. It is very important for caregivers to take time for themselves and to get support, especially from others in similar roles. The needs of a caregiver are as unique as the symptoms of each individual person with MS. Just like with the care-receivers themselves, there are many support options available to a caregiver. While a local organization would be ideal, time and access could be an issue. The Web is an excellent way to find others who are facing similar problems. Support is there 24/7. Because each caregiver’s situation is unique, taking time to explore options is important. A Web search for “support for caregivers,” or, specifically, “support for caregivers of MS patients” will yield great results. A few results are listed here, but taking the time to find those that best meet your needs will be worthwhile in the long run.

Just about anything you want, or need, to know about MS can be found at It can be a little cumbersome, but it is an amazing collection of resources for both the caregiver and care-receiver. From the home page select “all conditions,” then scroll down and click on “multiple sclerosis.” In the Resource section of the site, there is a list of the 10 most useful MS organizations. The MSF is on the list and the page can be found here:

Rocky Mountain MS Center has a great list of caregiver support sites. This would be a great place to start your search.

As a caregiver, MS is an especially difficult disease to manage, because symptoms vary so widely from day to day and person to person. There are many resources, like support websites and Care Zone, that are available to make everything easier. Using technology can make a big difference in a caregiver’s life. It can allow them to find help and support with their own situation, but can also help make providing care easier. There are a lot of options available; find one that works for you.