The task of caring for an aging parent or a loved one can be intensely overwhelming, emotionally and financially, and the current infrastructure of healthcare service delivery in Malaysia can at times aggravate the situation further.
Some of these hitches in the healthcare service delivery might already be familiar to you: long waiting periods at public hospitals, crowded waiting areas, problems with accessibility, additional spending for travelling and the high cost of private healthcare.
Bearing witness to an aging parent or loved one’s physical or mental deterioration is never easy, especially when you recall the days when you were the recipient of their care. In either case, we want peace of mind from the assurance that we have got all our bases covered for ourselves and our loved ones in terms of safety and comfort.
Today, new technologies have created new possibilities – from aged-friendly communities to products and services – to reduce isolation and enhance quality of life without compromising the main thing today’s aging population are most interested in: independence and living with dignity.
Here are some ways the aging parent can still be independent and how much the independence could cost:
1. ICE – in case of emergency
Caregivers lose sleep over the well-being of their charge, but with this app, they may be able to get the peace of mind they need. In an emergency, the ICE app is a convenient and useful way to store essential information.
The free app allows you to record information regarding your medication, diseases (if any), allergies and other health-related information, in addition to a list of your emergency contacts.
Another feature of the app is the ability to create multiple profiles, which is useful for compiling a database of medical information about your family members or other loved ones as well. With the information obtained from the app, doctors can quickly assess your condition and apply more accurate solutions in the event of an emergency.
With a quick tap of the alarm button, an SMS is sent to your emergency contacts during a critical situation, containing data collected from your mobile phone and your location via GPS. It also allows you to store your health insurance policy number.
2. Alert Family Emergency Button
Pair ICE with the Alert app and you will have a personal digital telehealth monitoring. There is a similar emergency notification function that sends an SMS of your location to three of your contacts by merely tapping the Alert button or shaking your phone to activate it.
However, unlike ICE, it doesn’t store your medical information but it does simultaneously call your selected contacts and attempt to initiate a voice conference call to troubleshoot your situation. This is especially useful to guide your family or friends through steps they need to take if there is an emergency.
RM40/month or RM400/year
While it’s not an app, MYDOC.asia is a free and useful website for you to get connected with a doctor.
Gone are the days where finding a specialist is a trial and error routine based on hearsay. MYDOC.asia allows you to search for a clinic or a specialist near you or anywhere in Malaysia. Essentially, the site provides information to help you make informed decisions when choosing your medical or healthcare service provider.
You can view the doctor’s experience, patient reviews and the quality of the clinics or facilities. You can personally chat with their Care Team for real time answers to your enquiries. Their operational hours are from 9am to 6:30pm.
This really comes into handy if you are travelling to a new place with your aging parents, as it allows the caregiver or the charge to look for the right doctor in case of emergency. Though MYDOC.asia is free to use, medical fees for consultation, treatment, and other services rendered by the selected clinic or doctor are still applicable.
4. Doctor2U: Get a doctor
The Doctor2U is a useful app to have on your phone to acquire medical assistance for non-life threatening cases. Doctor2U allows you to request for a visit from a certified doctor at the tap of a button.
The visiting doctor will arrive at your location in 60 minutes to diagnose, treat and prescribe the medication you require and follow up with you the next day. You have the option to choose whether the doctor is required for an adult or child. Upon acceptance, a doctor will attend to you. In the event of a life-threatening medical emergency, you would need to call 999 for medical assistance.
This especially useful for those who are living alone (aging or not), as something a fever can render us unable to drive to the clinic and back. With this app, you don’t have to leave your home and still get treated by a doctor.
|Price of app
|Fee for services
RM420 from 8pm to 8am
* Not including additional medication prescribed by the attending doctors
The app works similarly to how Uber, the ride-sharing app. Payments to the doctors would be done electronically using PayPal Braintree. This ensures that you are aware of the breakdown of the fees, as an email of the receipt and a medical summary report will be sent to you after every service.
Currently, Doctor2u is only operational in Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Ipoh and Johor and the service is available 24 hours, seven days a week.
However, with Bemalas, an electronic personal butler, you don’t have to worry about the smaller daily tasks. The app is a Malaysian service that gives you the freedom to go about your daily routine at home while Bemalas attends to the errand you requested of them.
You can communicate with Bemalas through SMS at 012-643 1303 or chat with them through their app, website or Facebook page. You can request for a variety of errands, be it getting your medication, party planning, meal delivery or even an IT tutorial on how to use your smartphone or tablet.
They ensure your approval prior to proceeding with your request and will let you know if there are any issues with it. The charges of each task vary depending on complexity on top of their base fee. Bemalas operates from 9am-9pm nationwide daily.
|Price of app
|Fee for services
6. Uber and Grab (MyTeksi)
Mobility issues and getting around town becomes more difficult with age. With credible service providers like Uber and Grab (MyTeksi) to help with travelling without the issues of navigating traffic yourself or finding a parking lot, transportation is no longer an issue.
Uber charges a base fare of RM0.95, RM2.50 and RM3 – based respectively on their low (uberX), medium (uberXL), and high tier (uberBLACK) range of vehicles – in addition to the fare based on the distance and time you take to reach your destination.
Grab (MyTeksi) currently charges on a fixed rate basis with a base fare of RM4 and RM1.40 for the Premium and Economy ride respectively. For both providers, prior to confirming your ride, the estimated price is already calculated based on the base fare, distance between the two points, and estimated time taken to travel that distance.
|Price of app
|Fee for services
A better flow of continuum care
The ‘uberisation’ of products and services has changed the game for traditional service providers, creating a generation of products and services that now empowers individuals via technology. It especially makes access to the provision of caregiving and personal independence more easily attainable.
The combination of the suggested apps gives a taste of the personal empowerment from having a custom-made service delivery network. However, this is only sufficient if you are an active retiree. Even then, putting aside factors of unexpected events, there is still room for human error when it comes to managing your own care.
The flow of caregiving from family members, especially when they are not professionally trained, can be disrupted due to emotions running high. In that moment, they may not necessarily decide on the optimal course of action.
Hence, it would be a good investment to have an experienced and objective third party as your Care Manager – backed by an array of resources, who can help you make informed decisions and execute them – to help ensure that you or your loved one receive the best care available in a continuous flow. The Care Manager can even help source for available and alternative options for you to mitigate obstacles – such as a crisis arising from a lack of funds for your care.
By having a Care Manager assist in shouldering some of the responsibilities, you will be able to gain a greater measure of respite and reassurance, knowing that your care or that of your loved ones is in good hands.