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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Make your smartphone your smartest asset.

I say all the time that I see a lot of geriatric patients. And so many of them don't have smart phones- they say they don't need all that extra stuff and they won't succumb to it.  I totally understand that it can be kind of overwhelming and may seem like a bunch of stuff you don't need, but that isn't because of your age.  There's a ton of stuff on mine that I don't need, and there's exponentially more available in the app store that I wouldn't know what to do with if I even knew it existed. So you can't really tell me that its "too much" for you.  The beauty of it is that you can make it exactly how much you need.
And so, since my mother always taught me to share, I'm sharing with you the best apps I've found for dealing with the day to day of our complicated lives. 

Life organization
Sometimes it's hard to keep up with all of the pieces of  life. Even without chronic pain, or lack of sleep,  or wicked strong poisonous medications a person can end up seriously overwhelmed. For that, I use a couple of things.

Price: Free or $$ (premium subscription)

I've been using Evernote since I got my first smart phone.  The app  is just plain amazing.  You can create lists, or text documents. You can take photos and store them in a document. What is truly awesome is that you can create tags for your stuff, so you can tag a photo of a drug bottle as "meds" and then when you're at a doctor's office, just pull up all of your documents tagged "meds" and there they are.
Or, you can create notebooks. So I have notebooks for everything from work, to medical information, to blog notes. What I love is that it creates an easy to interface environment- all of my allergies, past surgeries, current meds, etc are listed with easy access so if something happened to me all my husband has to do at the hospital is pull up the notebook for my health information.

Google Keep
Price: Free
Oh. My. God. This is the mecca of organization tools. At its heart it is a classic digital post it style app. However- Google has taken everything to the next level.  There is your standard color coding option, to make it visually easy to see what your to do list looks like. But they have added the ability to add tags as well, which once again means it is easy to find all notes pertaining to what you are looking for. 
Notice the tags at the bottom right corner of
each, as well as the icon that indicates the
note is shared on the "DO TAXES" note.
The red icon of a red blobby thing (I don't
have my glasses right now) is his icon
and means that he has the ability to edit
this note.
My favorite feature, however, is the reminders. Many digital post it apps have started allowing remi
nders to be set like  alarms to go off at a certain date or time. But with this app Google has integrated your GPS, meaning you can set reminders FOR A SPECIFIC PLACE. So if I keep forgetting make up remover when I go to Target, I can make myself a note when I remember (usually right when I get home) then set it to go off the next time I'm at Target. And lo and behold, the next time I walk into Target, my phone beeps at me with a message saying "Go get your make up remover, stupid!" (I'm not very nice to myself in these notes.) So if you're like me and seem to forget that you had a list for the grocery  store, you can set a reminder and when you walk in- BAM, you won't forget any more. (Also handy is making a note for the time I get off work, so I'll remember to actually go to the store, bank, whatever.)

Health Organization
Price: Free or $ (Paid)
I wish I had had this app in college. (I wish smart phones had existed then too but, whatever, time travel.) It is exactly what it sounds like: you put in your medication with as much or as little information as you want. You can set a

reminder to go off when you're supposed to take it, and you check off whether you took it or skipped it. Which is amazing if you sometimes can't remember if you already took your Lyrica or whatever. And it can be a lifesaver for those weekly meds that I often forget about until days later.
Note the tabs for "Schedule", "Inventory", and "Contact".
When I say you can put as much or as little information in there, I mean that. You can put in your dosage, how often you take it, who the prescribing doctor is, what your preferred pharmacy is, even what the refill number is. You can put in what quantity you get at a time (like 30 pills for a daily med), and it will remind you when you are getting low. You can put how many refills it came with, and if you mark it each time you refill it, it will update your supply, and warn you when you are out of refills. This feature is awesome for PRN meds like tramadol, opiates, xanax, etc
I can't even imagine how much better I would have been about taking my birth control in college with this thing.

Next time we'll look at some more health organization choices, as well as a couple of other random treats!  In the mean time, do you have any suggestions for fellow readers? Submit them at contribute@thefaceofarthritis.com and I may feature them in the next post!

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