Tech Tools Help with Health

Screenshot of Apple Health summary. Caption reads: "It seems like my whole life is measured by technology."

Tech Tools Help with Health blog post by Iris Carden

I’m old enough to remember when phones only made phone calls, and they were always wired into the wall. They had rotary dials, and if we didn’t write friends’ phone numbers on a piece of paper or in a notebook, we had to look through a big book of everyone’s phone numbers to find them.

Phones have come a long way since then. It happened in increments.

First came answering machines, which were amazing all by themselves, but after a while came the innovation that the phone company somehow stored messages without needing a machine attached to it.

Then came the mobile phone, and it not only kept messages when we missed the call, but we could also store everyone’s contact details.

After that, we could keep our calendar and appointments and notebooks on our phones. This was an incredible step forward – before that, I always carried a seperate paper diary, or eventually an electronic diary along with the phone. At the time, that was incredible.

Then came cameras, instant messaging, all those things we take for granted now.

After that, we added wearables, like a watch linked to the phone.

And now, this whole thing becomes an amazing tool for managing health.

I’m using Apple Health, but I’m sure Android has its own version of all of this. (The main reason I went to Apple, is that the devices last much longer before I have to replace them, and replacing devices is a cost I struggle with.) Whenever an issue comes up, I’ve learned to check what ways the tech I already have can help.

Using the basic Health program and apps that integrate with it, my watch and phone together:

  • Is a pedometer, tracking steps, but will also track other exercise (managing exercise can help with chronic illness management).
  • Has fall detection, so if I fall down and don’t get myself up, my watch will call for help for me.
  • Tracks my blood pressure and blood sugar for my doctor (for diabetes, and high blood pressure)
  • Keeps track of all my medications and reminds me when to take them (for all my multiple health issues). That took a very long time to set up, but I have sometimes forgotten to take medication in the past, so it’s important.
  • Tracks what I eat, and calculates my carbohydrate intake (for diabetes). That app also helps with weight management (which can also help with chronic illnesses).
  • Tracks my sleep, both in quantity and quality (sufficient good quality sleep also makes a difference managing chronic illness).
  • Has recently started tracking how long I spend washing my hands. (20 seconds is recommended, It seems silly, but is a good thing to get right in a pandemic when my immune system doesn’t work properly.) I didn’t actually add a app for this, it just came with a recent update.

Forty years ago, when I was a teenager and had just got my first digital watch, if someone had told me a computerised watch and a phone I could carry in my pocket would do all those things for me, I would not have believed it. Then again, forty years ago, if someone had told me I would want or need all that, I would not have believed it.


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By Iris Carden

Iris Carden is an Australian indie author, mother, grandmother, and chronic illness patient. On good days, she writes. Because of the unpredictability of her health, she writes on an indie basis, not trying to meet deadlines. She lives on a disability support pension now, but her ultimate dream is to earn her own living from her writing.

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