Writer Mona Karaoui talks about how digital health helps her connect with and care for her family—even from a distance.

The expatriate community in the UAE is substantial. Lucrative packages, a cosmopolitan lifestyle, a sun that never sets—it is the living dream of every working professional with a desire to thrive. In fact, a recent UN report showed that the UAE has become equally popular to the UK, when it comes to attracting working professionals from around the globe—having become home to over 7.8 million expatriates living and working around the emirates today.

La vie en rose, sadly, does not come at no cost.

Having lived in the City of Life for almost a decade, I miss out—on plenty of things back home—and that is a fact that can’t be flouted. The autumn’s first breeze, the national marathon, London Grammar’s concert at the summer festival… 

But most importantly—precious time with family—providing love, attention, and care to my parents, being by their side as they age (but remain young at heart). This time of their lives and mine is something that I can’t buy back.

So last summer, my siblings and I got our mother an iPad for her birthday. She was furious. She couldn’t comprehend why her own children would “force” her into technology, knowing it would never be of real use to her.

A year later, she Skypes me every day, logs into her favorite cooking shows, extracts recipes, follows my Instagram account (discreetly), asks questions, and wants to learn more. She loves it. She got over her fear of “change” and enjoys being a “tech-savvy” mom. And I love being there “virtually” to share her excitement, answer her questions (and have her serenade me to sleep—Who needs you Sleepio?).

What I would also love to do, eventually, is be a caregiver from a distance when she needs me to be. I want to make sure she’s drinking enough water, eating healthy, sleeping well, monitoring her fluid status, and avoiding unnecessary falls.  And that’s why I am so big on digital health right now—because it allows me to do just that.

With countless digital health solutions being introduced for home use today; the right trainings for patients and caregivers being put in place; user-friendly health and wellness apps; and wearables and sensors to go along with them—aging has become less daunting for parents (true), but also less terrifying for a large generation of us children living away from home (truer).

Nuviun’s Sue Montgomery R.N., casually told me the other day: “I plan, I plan everything way ahead of time.” And I fully concur.

Planning is key when it comes to making digital health part of our daily lives. Planning, coupled with practice, makes a difference—because yes, practice does make perfect (just Skype my mother!)

Digital health today promises to give 7.8 million expatriates in the UAE a glimpse of hope—to be at their “smart” home, away from home. And that is a big deal. 

Mona Karaoui is a writer and editor. In her posts for nuviun, she provides unique insights and perspectives on digital health through the eyes of the consumer. You can follow Mona on Twitter @monakaraoui or on her blog: fool4words.

The nuviun blog is intended to contribute to discussion and stimulate debate on important issues in global digital health. The views are solely those of the author.