Exciting news! The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a new ruling last week that adds telehealth benefits to Medicare Advantage plans. Previously, certain telehealth benefits were only available to seniors in Original Medicare, and only if they lived in remote, rural areas.
“Today’s policies represent a historic step in bringing innovative technology to Medicare beneficiaries.”
“Today’s policies represent a historic step in bringing innovative technology to Medicare beneficiaries.”
These new changes, starting in 2020, mean that patients will have the option to use telehealth to receive medicare care, and have it covered. What does this mean for GrandCare? Instead of being required to go to a healthcare facility for every service, seniors will be able to use GrandCare’s one -touch, HIPAA-compliant video chat on their GrandCare system to connect with their healthcare and clinical providers. It also means expanded access to telehealth services from providers who may practice in other parts of the country, and may not otherwise be reachable by the senior patient. This also enables medical homecare providers, such as the visiting nurses, to better access patients using telehealth monitoring tools and virtual check ins, without having the excess “windshield” time and cost of transport.
“Today’s policies represent a historic step in bringing innovative technology to Medicare beneficiaries,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “With these new telehealth benefits, Medicare Advantage enrollees will be able to access the latest technology and have greater access to telehealth. By providing greater flexibility to Medicare Advantage plans, beneficiaries can receive more benefits, at lower costs and better quality.”
With geographical restrictions lifted, CMS is ensuring that seniors in all parts of the country will have access to telehealth and telemedicine services. According to CMS, “These policies continue the agency’s efforts to modernize the Medicare Advantage and Part D programs, unleash innovation and drive competition to improve quality among private Medicare health and drug plans.”
GrandCare’s easy-to-use, HIPAA-compliant video chat feature has always allowed seniors an easy face-to-face chat with healthcare providers. GrandCare also uses Bluetooth wireless technologies for remote monitoring of vitals and biometric readings, and offers better medication management and compliance monitoring. With the new CMS ruling, GrandCare users will enjoy a new convenience, better and faster access to care, while being covered by Medicare.
A few years ago my mom passed away, and since then my Dad has been living by himself. He’s still in his home, and for the most part, he’s pretty independent, which is great. But he has quite a few medications to take, and that’s becoming a bigger challenge for him. Recently, we’ve noticed that he sometimes forgets to eat, which can be a real problem with his diabetes.
My brother and I try to get over there as much as possible, and lately, we try to make sure one of us gets over there every day. With work and all of the kid shuffling to piano, dance and soccer, it’s hard. We try not to let on that it’s a challenge, because I know dad feels guilty. He keeps saying that we shouldn’t worry about him and instead focus on our own busy lives. He constantly says he doesn’t want to be a burden. On the other hand, when we tried to get some home care services, he resisted. He is used to doing things for himself, and didn’t want to accept help from anyone else. In his words he plans to “die in his bed,” which makes us crazy. There’s no reason he can’t stay safe and healthy at home, if we can just make sure he’s taking his meds.
We decided to go a different route. We gave him a GrandCare System. It’s a touchscreen computer that not only reminds him to eat, and take his medications, but it also lets us see that he’s remembered to test his blood sugar and take his blood pressure medication every day. My brother and I get alerted if he forgets, if his sugar numbers are out of whack, if he misses his meds, or even if he isn’t moving around like normal. We still visit him pretty often, but now it’s more relaxed and enjoyable because we aren’t so worried.
The best part for him is the social end. He has always refused to get a cell phone and don’t even get him started on why he’ll never join Facebook. But with the GrandCare system, he video chats all the time with us and the kids. They’ve been sharing photos with him. My brother and I have Facebook albums that automatically show up on his GrandCare. He uses it to check the news headlines, weather forecast, listen to his favorite music and watch episodes of shows. He even watches the kids play their sports live, right from his living room.
GrandCare has made dad healthier and has made him feel more connected. It’s been a life saver for us!
Isolation and loneliness are epidemic amongst older people. Your children move away, you retire and lose your work network, and maybe even lose your spouse. Perhaps driving is no longer an option and there are fewer friends to meet out. This type of isolation can have a tremendous impact on happiness and overall health. The problem is even worse for those in rural and remote communities where neighbors are few and far between.
If you can’t move, how do you stay connected and in the loop? GrandCare can help. GrandCare has always believed that technology can play a big role in mitigating the feelings of loneliness and isolation, and actually help to bridge family together using video chat and messaging. And we’re not alone. Just recently Nelson Communications Cooperative received a grant to do just that. With GrandCare as their chosen technology partner, Nelson is hosting a pilot program to alleviate isolation for seniors living in rural Wisconsin.
Do you know any seniors who might be feeling isolated or lonely? Maybe we can help. Here’s a video overview of the various ways to stay connected with GrandCare.
Photo by Larry Jacobson
Canada is home to almost 8 million family caregivers who provide 80% of the support for people with health issues. On Friday, May 4th, hundreds of them will attend The Caregiver’s Show in Toronto to learn about all of the new caregiving technologies and resources. GrandCare will be showcasing their caregiving technologies represented by Full Circle TeleCare, GrandCare’s certified Canadian integrator. They are also slated to speak at 3:15pm on “New Advances in Home Care Technology for Seniors”
Family caregivers are busy people. The care that they provide is essential, but they also have jobs and other responsibilities. GrandCare is there to help. Video calling, medication reminders, activity sensing–all of these features and more can make caregiving more efficient and effective. Full Circle TeleCare can customize your GrandCare experience to suit your unique family needs–and provide all the service and support you expect.
The Caregiver’s Show is Friday, May 4, from 10 AM to 4 PM at the Toronto Science Centre. Attendees will learn about all the resources that can make their efforts successful. Best of all, it’s completely free to attend. For more information visit Full Circle TeleCare and The Caregiver’s Show.
Ontario Science Centre
770 Don Mills Road- Toronto
Don Mills/ Eglinton
Friday May 4th, 2018
10am – 4pm
Contact Full Circle TeleCare at firstname.lastname@example.org
Betty’s husband had been gone for several years and taking care of the house all alone was becoming too much for her. Her children felt that it was time for her to move to an independent living community. Although she didn’t like the idea, she agreed so as not to be a burden.
When move-in day arrived, Betty was worried. Aside from Packer Sundays, what would she do all day? Her favorite football team doesn’t play every day, after all. But when she walked into her new apartment for the first time she was surprised to see pictures of the Pack displayed on a large screen. Her family explained that this community uses the touchscreen to let her know about activities, dining options, and more. There was a touchscreen in every apartment.
As she stood admiring the football-themed slideshow, Betty noticed something else. Some of these photos were of her. Betty with her kids, Betty with her husband, all of them taken at Packer games. She even saw the one from their 40th wedding anniversary–taken at Lambeau Field, of course.
Her kids explained that they had supplied these pictures themselves. They had uploaded them to the touchscreen, personalizing it just for her. They had even put a button on the screen that took her right to the Green Bay Packers website. Another button labeled “GO PACK!” showed her video of some of their Super Bowl touchdowns.
And that is how Betty’s children, her new community, and the Green Bay Packers helped her feel right at home in her new place.
Find out what GrandCare can do for your community. We do community-wide messaging, video calling, resident directories, concierge services, resident check-ins, and more. Click here to contact us today!
Video calls are a feature of modern life. It’s the preferred method for grandparents to keep up with distant grandchildren. It can help seniors stay connected even when they live alone. But can video calls save your life?
Apparently they can. Just ask Opokua Kwapong of New York. She woke from a nap when her sister, Adumea Sapong, FaceTimed her from Manchester, England. The sister could tell right away that something didn’t seem right. Opokua was slurring her words, which might have been chalked up to sleepiness, but because it was a video call she could clearly see OPokua’s face looked wrong. She was having a stroke.
OPokua got medical attention immediately and credits the technology with saving her life.
GrandCare has video calling from the touchscreen to your PC and from touchscreen to our new iPhone app. Sure, it helps family and friends stay connected. It definitely can help stave off loneliness. But it can also provide critical information about the wellbeing of the GrandCare user. It can be hard to tell what’s going on with just a voice call. Sometimes you just have to see for yourself to know that everything’s ok.
Do you know the signs of a stroke? Use the letters in “fast” to spot stroke signs and know when to call 9-1-1. Click here to learn about FAST.
GrandCare Mobile is now available in the App Store for iPhone. This is something that we’ve wanted for our caregivers for a long time. We hope you love this new way to stay connected to your GrandCare touchscreen user.
So what does our App do? Three things. First, it can place or receive video calls between the touchscreen and your iPhone. Second, it lets you type a message and send it directly to the touchscreen. Third, it allows you to upload photos to the GrandCare slideshow. Let’s take these one at a time.
Video calls can be initiated from our App or from the GrandCare touchscreen. Incoming calls to the app will ring your lockscreen, just like any other call would do. Calls from our App to the touchscreen are indistinguishable from video calls initiated in your browser. The best part is, we’ve made these calls highly secure. This is important for everyone’s privacy. But it’s of special concern to our professional caregivers who might wish to have a billable medical consultation over the video call. Our video calling is fully HIPAA-compliant.
Typing a message and sending it to the touchscreen couldn’t be easier. Just enter a subject and a brief message and touch Send. Within moments your message will appear on the GrandCare touchscreen where the user can read and dismiss it. These kinds of messages are handy and can be used for just about any purpose. “Don’t forget to drink water today,” or “I’m coming over this afternoon at 3” are just two examples.
The GrandCare mobile app allows you to upload pictures to the slideshow. Next time you’re snapping a photo at a family get-together or other special occasion, upload it right to your GrandCare user’s touchscreen. Select photos from your photo roll or take a picture on the spot. It’s up to you and it’s that simple.
The GrandCare Mobile App is free for all GrandCare caregivers. Download it today and log in using your my.grandcare credentials. We think you’re going to love it. And don’t forget to leave a review on the App Store!
There’s just one more thing… Yes, we’re working on an Android version!
5 Tech Tools to Make Life Easier for Family Caregivers
Each November, National Family Caregivers Month reminds us of the important, commendable work that family caregivers do each and every day. It also serves as a reminder of the mental and physical toll that caregiving can take. Fortunately, modern technology offers a number of solutions for easing this burden, making life easier for caregivers and empowering their loved ones to live more comfortable, more independent lives. If you’re a caregiver for someone in your family, here are the five most important tech tools you need to know.
A centralized system that incorporates everything from safety monitors to socialization, GrandCare is designed to empower both caregivers and their loved ones. A large, high-visibility touchscreen provides simple access to medication reminders, weather updates, daily schedules, video chat and a variety of other tools that help seniors age in place in comfort, while an online portal gives caregivers on-the-go access to activity patterns, alerts, medical information and more. Optional sensors can expand the system to allow detailed activity and wellness monitoring, creating a highly customized system that’s designed with the specific needs and concerns of each senior and their caregiver in mind. Doctors and other healthcare providers can also be granted access to the system, making GrandCare a great holistic solution for those requiring ongoing medical care.
Automated Pill Dispensers
Managing even a single prescription drug can prove difficult for some people, but juggling the half-dozen or more medications that many seniors take every day can quickly become overwhelming. This frequently leads to skipping or doubling doses, which may carry real health consequences. One solution to this problem is automated pill dispensers, which use digital timers to automatically dispense medications on a preprogrammed schedule. Many such dispensers also feature alarms to provide notification of each dosage time, and some are also available with monitoring so that caregivers or health professionals can ensure compliance. For added peace of mind, seek out a locked, tamper-proof dispenser to ensure that no one can access the stored medications until the appropriate time.
Personal Emergency Response Systems
A family caregiver’s worst nightmare is for their loved one to fall or suffer a medical emergency and be rendered unable to call for help. Unfortunately, this scenario is all too common, and studies have shown that an elderly person’s odds of surviving such an ordeal fall sharply the longer they go without help. To alleviate this risk, a personal emergency response system (PERS) ensures that assistance is always within arm’s reach, providing a small, lightweight transmitter that can call for help with just the press of a button. These transmitters typically come in the form of a wrist or necklace pendant, and they connect the user to a 24/7 monitoring service that can promptly summon the appropriate emergency services.
Home Automation and Home Monitoring
Independent living is very important for many seniors, but managing daily tasks can become a real chore. Home automation lends a helping hand by placing all sorts of tasks at your loved one’s fingertips, from smart lighting that can be turned on or off from anywhere in the home to smart thermostats that can be set based on your loved one’s schedule and preferences. Smart technology can help with monitoring and security, too. Smart security systems can be viewed remotely from virtually anywhere, allowing both you and your loved one to stay aware of their surroundings and check visitors at the door. Paired with smart locks, the door can even be unlocked remotely for expected visitors. Similarly, indoor smart cameras are a great way for you to keep an eye on your loved one even when you can’t be there physically, ensuring that you’re never left out of contact.
There really is an app for nearly everything, and caregiving is no exception. Apps like Lotsa Helping Hands, CareZone and Caring Village help with managing your loved one’s care, allowing you to bring friends and family members together, communicate securely, create and assign tasks that need to be done, share photos and much more. Another useful app is eCare21, which works with wearable devices and monitors to provide convenient, unintrusive monitoring of everything from activity levels to heart rate and blood glucose. Finally, AARP Caregiving provides many of the same scheduling, monitoring and communication functions as other apps, but it also includes a highly useful help center with all sorts of health and safety information, frequently asked questions and even answers to urgent questions.
Being a family caregiver is certainly meaningful and rewarding work, but it’s also tremendously challenging. With a little help from modern technology, you can make your job easier, give your loved one more freedom and independence and ensure that they’re as safe and comfortable in their homes as possible.
Maricel Tabalba is a freelance writer who is interested in writing about smart gadgets, emerging tech trends and environmentally friendly advice. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in Communication from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
A few years ago a man named Sandy Halperin contacted us. He wanted to know if GrandCare could be helpful for people with Alzheimer’s Disease. We were intrigued by the idea. We asked Sandy if he had suggestions. He did.
Sandy himself had recently been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s at the age of 60. Since that time he has become a well-known advocate for the care and cure of the disease, especially in his native state of Florida. As his disease progressed he often found himself stopping in his tracks without any clear idea of what he was supposed to do next or what he had already done earlier in the day.
With Sandy’s help, GrandCare developed features specifically designed to provide cognitive assistance to people with memory problems. Sandy especially appreciated the To Do List and Today’s Schedule. Together, these features help Sandy quickly orient himself and be reminded of what he supposed to do next and what he had done earlier. He began to refer to his GrandCare unit as his “second brain.”
Thanks to Sandy, GrandCare is a more fully featured product designed to meet the needs of seniors of all kinds–even those who need help in their battle with Alzheimer’s and other memory-related conditions.
For more on Sandy, check out this CNN report from Sanjay Gupta.
You thought GrandCare was a small tech firm from southeastern Wisconsin.
Well, that’s true. But did you know that we’re also expanding into a 2,500 square foot office in Manchester, England?
That’s right! GrandCare UK just inked a five year lease on office space in Altringcham. This will allow us to grow and distribute GrandCare all over the United Kingdom. Our customers will include the National Health Service, private homes, and assisted living facilities.
Read all about it in the Manchester Evening News. And then watch GrandCare UK’s latest TV commercial below.