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.
Cambridge, Massachusetts. June 20th and 21st. More than six hundred thinkers, leaders, and innovators will gather to discuss one thing: the healthcare experience. GrandCare’s own Charlie Hillman has been selected as an industry thought leader to share his experience and knowledge. Alongside his industry colleagues, he will be discussing tech for the aging population and how GrandCare technology helps the elderly in mind, body and spirit.
If there’s one thing Charlie is passionate about, it’s using enabling technologies to better the aging experience, make caregiving easier, and to mitigate costly health interventions. “The current healthcare system cannot go on without bankrupting my children and grandchildren,” Hillman said. “Patient engagement is critical. Technologies designed to engage patients will reduce costs, improve outcomes, and revolutionize care delivery.”
There’s no telling where the conversation will lead, but it’s certain to be interesting. Healthcare is a topic that isn’t going away anytime soon as key innovators and healthcare experts work together to find ways to make healthcare more accessible, more affordable and scalable.
Recent GrandCare Studies showed increased patient satisfaction for patients that combined hands on care with GrandCare technology. This is because GrandCare was designed to improve the care recipient’s experience. Read the study findings here.
Now in its seventh year, HxRefactored will take place in Cambridge, MA on June 20 & 21, 2017. Click here to register.
We have always believed that technology could keep seniors safe, healthy, and connected. This belief is why we do what we do at GrandCare. But can we prove it really is effective for clinical situations? Well that’s an easy answer. Yes. And we have the data to back it up. GrandCare does help the senior and disabled population to stay healthier, while bringing down the cost of care.
In recent case studies, the clients used GrandCare in conjunction with 24/7 case management services. GrandCare automatically recorded patient vitals, reminded patients when to take vitals or medications, passively monitored activity patterns, and triggered rule-based alerts to notify caregivers if something seemed amiss. Caregivers could preventatively address situations, often with simple and inexpensive remedies. These included everything from phone calls, HIPAA-compliant video chats, med changes or, if needed, clinical care. Many clients eligible for nursing home care were able to remain at home.
Overall, the results were remarkable. Patients were healthier, ER visits and hospital readmissions dropped, and senior satisfaction was much higher.
Hospital Readmission Studies
- One Georgia study used GrandCare technology in conjunction with case management services and found hospital readmissions reduced by 51% from pre-pilot rates.
- Another study with older adults eligible for nursing home care utilized GrandCare’s passive technology to monitor ADLs and IADLs and found fewer acute hospitalizations, ER visits, LTC days, and SNF admissions.
- Maryland participants in a GrandCare program saw a 58% reduction in acute care admission rates, for a savings of $372,672.
- These Maryland participants also experienced a reduction in the all-cause 30-day readmission rate to 4.5% (compared to the 15.95% state average), for a savings of $25,880. The cost to deliver this technology-enabled care was only $6,600.
Emergency Department Utilization
- One initiative using GrandCare Technology to manage patients with high emergency department utilization achieved a 75% reduction in ER visits.
- In a passive technology pilot with nursing home eligible patients at risk of falls and living alone, utilization of ER, long-term care and SNFs were all reduced by at least 10%.
- A patient population using GrandCare Technology demonstrated 88% adherence to their medical device and medication reminder treatment regimen.
- Participants using GrandCare reported a willingness to become more engaged and felt an increased awareness in self health.
- Participants in the Maryland study reported high levels of patient satisfaction.
- For patients in the Georgia group, 93% reported satisfaction with services.
- In a pilot of 22 patients using GrandCare, 100% of respondents agreed with the statement, “I have no difficulty telling others about the benefits of the system.”
Chronic Disease Management
- Patients using GrandCare with Uncontrolled Diabetes demonstrated improvements, with A1C (blood glucose) values at or below their baseline.
- In those patients managing Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) with the combination of GrandCare telehealth monitoring and care coaching, 96.5% of them maintained or improved their baseline NYHA classification score.
- For patients managing Hypertension with GrandCare, care coaching, a BP cuff and telehealth tools, 84% were able to maintain or improve their JNC-7 classification score.
- One study found that the initial investment in technology was recouped in 1-3 years due to reduced costs of care.
- The total savings in reduced acute admissions was $372,672 for patients using GrandCare with RPM and care management, while the cost to administer this technology-enabled care was $64,500. Leaving the total cost savings at $308,172.
GrandCare facilitates better care, better outcomes, lower costs, while improving patient satisfaction. We always knew that was true. And now we can prove it.
GrandCare’s founding member and VP of Business Development, Laura Mitchell, gave a talk for nursing students at Moraine Park Technical College. The subject of her presentation was “Disruptive Technologies in Aging and Healthcare.” Both GrandCare and Moraine Park are located in West Bend, a city of 30,000 people in Southeastern Wisconsin.
Laura discussed the disruptive demographic of the “aging tsunami,” caused by baby boomers reaching retirement age, exacerbated by the rising cost of health care. That’s where technologies like GrandCare can help, by facilitating remote patient monitoring, providing secure video chat and medication management.
It was the last day of the nursing students’ first semester of study at Moraine Park Tech. “It’s encouraging how receptive and inspired these future clinical providers were with the presence of telehealth and telemedicine technologies,” Laura said. “Especially considering that technology will play a large role in the delivery of personalized, predictive and proactive care.”
These young, engaged students are a new generation of clinical caregivers. They aren’t afraid of technology. They expect it. Their older counterparts can often seem more cautious and less accepting of advanced technologies. When shown GrandCare, the Moraine Park Tech students immediately began to get excited and brainstorm implementation strategies.
Laura, who speaks all over the country on connected health, digital caregiving and aging, doesn’t usually get the luxury of working with organizations in her own back yard. “I love that we’re engaging local people and local organizations,” she said. “Innovation doesn’t need to happen only in Silicon Valley. We can obviously benefit greatly from technology interventions, especially here in the Midwest.”
The State of Ohio is one of GrandCare’s newest fans. And it’s not just because of our rock star good looks.
A recent segment on ABC 6 On Your Side highlighted GrandCare affiliate RSS Monitoring, and its successful implementation of GrandCare technology, to help save the State of Ohio a lot of money in taking care of disabled residents who need nursing care provided in their homes.
The State of Ohio is experiencing a shortage of home health aides. It’s cheaper for people to receive care in their homes, but the staffing shortage meant that people were getting less care than they needed, or care that wasn’t as good as it should be. That’s why, four years ago, RSS turned to GrandCare for a solution.
“The technology in that case takes the place of a staff person,” said John Martin, Director of the Department of Developmental Disabilities. “It’s one of those neat things where we’re both good stewards of the taxpayers’ dollars and it improved the quality of life of some of the folks we’re serving.”
The numbers of dollars saved are larger than you might imagine.
According to the ABC news report, “Martin said each person who uses that technology saves the state between $10,000 to $100,000 compared to the cost of having an around-the-clock home health aide.”
Residents are helped by a variety of GrandCare’s monitoring capabilities. Examples include:
“People with autism who function better with a predictable routine can have a sensor in their shower to make sure they’re getting their morning started on the right track. People who suffer seizures can have a sensor detect if they’ve fallen and might need help.”
The residents like the results.
“People help me out,” said Becky Ross who suffers from seizures and now has sensors on her floors to detect if she’s fallen. “I can be more independent (with the sensors).”
If the sensors in Ross’s home go off, she will get a video call to make sure she’s okay. If she’s not, emergency help will be sent to her home.
Currently 170 people have sensors like that installed in their homes. Thanks to the success of this four-year venture, Gov. Kasich’s budget would now expand the program to cover roughly 600 people.
GrandCare is proud to be a part of this effort. We created GrandCare as a way to improve the lives of so many people. And we’re delighted that in the process of helping their residents, Ohio has found that our systems can help save their taxpayers big money.
“If you ever plan to motor west,
Travel my way, take the highway that is best.
Get your kicks on Route Sixty-Six.”
GrandCare is headed to western Illinois for this year’s Healthy Living Expo with GrandCare affiliate Gray Matters Alliance. This one-day event, held on May 19, is a great place to have fun, get facts on healthy living for seniors, and get free health screenings. And it’s a good place to learn more about GrandCare by stopping at Table 19.
But wait, there’s more! The event is being held at Gateway Classic Cars which means that, in addition to this fun and informative expo, you can enjoy the classic car show. There will be hundreds of cars to look at and more than 100 vendors to visit.
And wait, there’s even more! There’s a free continental breakfast, complimentary lunch, entertainment, games, and more. Even a Patsy Cline impersonator! There’s also free transportation. (Call 800-326-3221 for pickup locations.)
“It winds from Chicago to LA,
More than two thousand miles all the way.
Get your kicks on Route Sixty-Six.”
So, if you’re winding down Route sixty-six, or any highway, be sure to stop in at Gateway Classic Cars at 1237 Central Park Drive, in O’Fallon, Illinois. Get healthy, and enjoy the car show.
The event is sponsored by AgeSmart Community Resources. AgeSmart works to help older adults remain independent in their homes and communities. Through planning, funding, responding to community needs and providing answers on aging, AgeSmart Community Resources helps people age well their way.
Healthy Living Expo
Sponsored by AgeSmart Community Resources
May 19, 2017
At Gateway Classic Cars
1237 Central Park Dr
Expo open 8:30am to 12:30pm
Gray Matters Alliance was established to create empathy, patience and tolerance towards the elder population. They are committed to offering peace of mind for families while allowing their loved ones to remain engaged and maintain their dignity and at the same time provide caregivers with additional resources to do their jobs more effectively and compassionately. Find out more at their website (www.graymattersalliance.com.)
Mother’s Day can be traced all the way back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, but the more modern day precursor was in the mid-1800’s with the formation of “Mother’s Day Work Clubs,” helping women with childcare. Post-Civil War, these clubs became peace organizations to promote reconciliation between former Union and Confederate soldiers. And in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson officially established the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.
Most celebrate Mother’s Day with flowers, chocolates, family events and maybe even brunch. This Mother’s Day why not offer mom the greatest gift of all, the gift that keeps giving, the gift of family communication. GrandCare is the gift of constant family socialization, photo sharing, Facebook integration, video chatting, games, trivia, weather, news reports and more. The best part is that Mom doesn’t have to know anything at all about computers or Facebook in order to take full advantage of the rich memories.
Use Code “MD2017” for a $200 discount on a GrandCare System for your mother. Only two systems per customer. Offer expires May 31st. Only available online. (www.grandcare.com)
“More phone calls are made on Mother’s Day than any other day of the year. These holiday chats with Mom often cause phone traffic to spike by as much as 37 percent.”
You get the peace of mind that comes with easy, non-intrusive activity monitoring. It also brings the more distant family members right to her touchscreen, so they don’t feel left out. Not only that, but if your mom is managing a chronic health condition at home, GrandCare can help with that, too. From on-screen medication reminders, to automatically recording her vitals every day, GrandCare never forgets.
To make it easy, we’ll even give you a sweet Mother’s Day deal. From now until May 31st, if you order a GrandCare System online, use discount code “MD2017” and save $200. (www.grandcare.com)
This could be the greatest Mother’s Day gift ever. So let Mom enjoy Facebook photos from the entire family on her GrandCare System, play some card games, and place one-touch video calls to the grandchildren. And you can still do brunch, too.
Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Sometimes people who need the care the most simply will not accept it. They resist it for many reasons. Perhaps it is denial that assistance is needed, or perhaps the thought is scary. Or maybe they don’t like the way it feels to need care. And, if human caregivers and family members can’t convince someone to accept help, is it a dead end?
The answer is that there has to be something “in it” for the care recipient. There has to be value.
GrandCare became that value for an elderly woman and her caregivers in Canada.
She had been refusing to allow her caregivers to help her. This was frustrating and concerning for everyone involved. The woman obviously required support. The family didn’t know what to do. Then, one clever caregiver had a brilliant idea involving GrandCare technology. She brought a GrandCare large touch appliance into the woman’s room already equipped with many engaging and nostalgic family photos, videos, personal messages, games and other items of personal interest.
The next time the caregivers came, they started the visit by engaging with her on a personal level. They asked about the photos and memories displayed on the GrandCare slideshow. The interaction was transformed. Not only was she now willing and excited to engage in these personalized conversations, she was also now willing to accept the other assistance she needed from the caregiving staff.
It was a perfect example in that attending to social and engagement needs first will lead to an all around healthier and happier life. While vital and activity monitoring capabilities are critical, the socialization and inspirational features of the GrandCare can be equally important.