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‘It’s a gift from God’: Cybermation tele-health venture makes it easier to monitor activity, medications

Written by Kevin Allenspach
12:40 AM, Dec. 11, 2011

St. Cloud Times – www.sctimes.com

See a video of GrandCare Client, Ed Thelen, discussing why the GrandCare System works for him and how it has been a lifesaver and lifted his spirits! http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid950566939001?bckey=AQ~~,AAAACbynFGE~,sf-WXU5Jxxvzf0yBwv5ezSaUvcZFydJt&bctid=1320587839001

COLD SPRING — After complications from shoulder surgery made it difficult for 69-year-old Ed Thelen to sleep in a bed at night, he’s taken to dozing in a giant easy chair in the living room of his third-floor home at John Paul Apartments. That discomfort isn’t his only concern. He also has a pacemaker, battles diabetes, struggles with Parkinson’s disease and is in a constant fight against obesity and depression. His biggest worry, though, is whether he’ll be able to keep a new device that has revolutionized his life.

As Thelen relates how he came to this place after 45 years of moving around the region as an insurance underwriter, something that looks like a flat-screen TV chirps next to his chair. He reaches over, touches a prompt, and within seconds is talking with his daughter via Skype.

After their conversation, he shows a visitor how the screen also notifies him if he has letters, pictures or video sent from one of his six grandchildren. He calls up his blood-pressure readings from the past month, which he can provide directly to his doctor, and demonstrates how it prompts him to take his pills — morning, noon and night — from a dispenser in the kitchen.

Ed Thelen, 69, of Cold Spring is able to live in his apartment with the help of an integrated monitoring system marketed locally by Cybermation. With the system, Thelen and others can monitor his health and activities and communicate with him through a touch screen he has in his living room. Jason Wachter, jwachter@stcloudtimes.com

“It’s phenomenal,” Thelen said with a hint of emotion behind his eyes. “If I forget to take my medication, it sends a signal and the phone rings. A voice says (with a nasal twang) ‘Mr. Thelen, you haven’t taken your medication.’ With all the things it does, to me it’s a gift from God.”

It is a GrandCare System, a product of a company in West Bend, Wis., that is being marketed locally for the first time by Cybermation, a Waite Park-based business that for 15 years was primarily known for home entertainment and security systems. Thelen has been working with it for about three weeks.

“We’ve mostly been about big boys toys,” Cybermation President Tom Ardolf said. “Commercial and residential people come to us and spend tens of thousands of dollars on their home theater, or they bring us a basket of remotes and ask us to create one that will run everything in their house. But late last year I got a call from a distributor that had known us for 10 years. They’d started a tele-health venture. I just wanted to ask the guy if we could go fishing. He said, ‘You really ought to look into this.’ ’’

Soon after he did, Ardolf decided to launch CyberHealth, a new division of Cybermation. His company is one of more than 300 authorized installers for the GrandCare System in the U.S. and Canada. Four are in Minnesota, with the other three in the Twin Cities metro area.

He said he’s working with an unnamed rural health care provider to distribute the GrandCare System on a wider scale. And, with baby boomers entering retirement and becoming elderly, remote monitoring is expected to be a $9.3 billion industry by 2014.

“My mom passed in 2007, and I often think of how my life, my mom’s life and that of my sisters would’ve been different if we’d had something like this,” Ardolf said.

Family connections

Gladys Ardolf lived in Maple Lake and was 78 when she died of complications from dystonia, a movement disorder that causes muscles to contract and spasm involuntarily. For the last six to eight years of her life, two of Tom Ardolf’s three sisters living in the area made daily — sometimes twice-daily — visits to make sure she was all right.

“The average caregiver puts in 24 hours a week — that’s a significant part-time job,” said Ardolf, 50. “People are willing to do it, especially when it’s their mom or their dad. But around year one or two, there’s invariably some resentment about ‘Why doesn’t this sibling who lives far away do something to help?’ If we’d had one of these systems, I could’ve played a role in her care — even though I’m 40 miles away.”

While the screen is in the user’s home, like the one next to Thelen’s easy chair, it provides a window for family members, caregivers and physicians to monitor the user’s health and activities.

“Just by placing sensors around my mom’s home, I could’ve had a call or text sent to my phone if she didn’t get up between 6 and 9 a.m.,” Ardolf said. “I would’ve known if she was restless in bed, went to the bathroom or didn’t take a shower. We could’ve put a magnet on the microwave that would’ve told us if she’d had coffee in the morning. It’s little things like that which can give you peace of mind — or alert you to trouble if they don’t happen.”

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Independence through Assistive Technology Cybermation Delivers the GrandCare System

Just thought we’d share a press story that was written about one of our dealers in Minnesota, Cybermation!

The tele-health industry is garnering a great deal of attention these days.  There is more than one reason this is occurring.  The baseline is that the senior and disabled population is rapidly growing, and hence, the expense to care for this demographic is also rapidly growing.  To further magnify this, the nation’s economic situation creates additional, overwhelming difficulties to provide the necessary services with limited financial resources.

One solution is the GrandCare system, configured and developed by Cybermation in Waite Park, MN.  Not only does GrandCare benefit our aging and disabled population, but it provides a system to remain independent in the home of their choice.

Products targeting remote health services have been in use for years.  Health care organizations and hospitals have implemented consumer electronic devices that are FDA compliant and provide a specific function, e.g., blood pressure, weight, glucose levels, etc.  Tremendous cost savings and better care have been two primary results.  More recently, products that help track activities of daily living (ADL) have also improved people’s lives and health by providing data that addresses the living patterns and tasks that must successfully be performed for someone to continue to live independently in their home.

Various electronic devices, from simple machines for emailing, personal computers, and more recently iPads and similar devices have all provided the opportunity for someone to have remote communication with family members, friends and caregivers in various ways, such as email, pictures, faxes, text messages, even video conferencing from free services such as Skype.

Products have and will continue to evolve that embrace the social, clinical and ADL aspects of maintaining, even improving the health of a person that wishes to remain in their home.  No product has more completely and holistically embraced all aspects of these facets of tele-health than the HomeBase system from GrandCare system.

Available since 2006, GrandCare Systems is a pioneer in the aging, disabled and technology digital home health industry.  The system integrates various remote monitoring technologies to provide an array of wellness and activity information, easily accessible by health care professionals and family members via the Internet.

GrandCare allows remote caregivers and health care professionals access to detailed information on the resident’s general activity levels, activities of daily living, home environment, health data, medication adherence, and more.  GrandCare notices sudden changes in behavior, drastic activity level changes, noncompliance, and other critical issues, which can be programmed to notify the correct caregiver via text, email or phone call.  GrandCare can also send care coordination notes, caregiving reports to designated caregivers and can even prompt a resident with a helpful reminder or cognitive assist.

GrandCare’s Smart home features can provide residents a variety of simple enhancements to daily living, including safe path lighting for late night bathroom trips, temperature moderation and secure call screening.

To the resident, the GrandCare system is a friendly, interactive connection to family, one touch video chat, a digital picture frame, access to services, games and videos. It is intuitive and easy to use with large, simple touch-screen buttons.  The GrandCare system can also use switche method of operation.  GrandCare is a helpful, resourceful, social connection and pure enjoyment!

All of these features and more are available for less cost than one month in assisted living – certainly a relevant consideration in today’s economic times.  Quantitative benefits of this magnitude are certainly going to catch the eye of any party facing the extraordinary costs associated with caring for the elderly.

However, it’s Cybermation’s sincere belief that these quantitative benefits are trumped by the wealth of qualitative benefits.  Indeed, social workers and clinical workers alike have a common belief that the simple devices that deliver either a clinical, social, or environmental benefit deliver net-positive value both quantitatively and qualitatively. GrandCare by Cybermation, however, provides a far more holistic, encompassing approach that successfully creates a relationship by a tailored blend of services to both the individual as well as the caregivers.

Caregiving in this day and age is both a big business as well as a very demanding responsibility in the diverse, dynamic, fast-paced environment where the family unit can be widely dispersed.  History shows that technology has been the predominant catalyst for change and benefit, and considering  the plethora of advanced technologies available to be developed and applied, there’s little wonder that GrandCare is at the forefront.

The final link in the process is to bring the proven product to the individual and their loved one.  GrandCare made a deliberate decision years ago that in order to effectively determine the individual needs, install the system properly, and to provide adequate support on an on-going basis, required a committed, consistent relationship with the entire family.  Hence, a decentralized sales and distribution process was implemented with a high degree of success.  Selected system integrators throughout the country have a very active relationship with GrandCare’s West Bend, WI office.  GrandCare also developed a remote support system for their dealers that allows easy hardware and software support.  The net result is an informed, active sales and support channel that provides the GrandCare user and caregivers with the personalized experience a system of this nature requires.

For more information on Cybermation and the GrandCare system, visit their website at www.cybermationinc.com or call (320) 255.7027, email  sales@cybermationinc.com

EquipAlife has installed demonstration units of GrandCare in each of their seven offices located through the state.  These devices can be either be used at the office or can be taken home for a 30-day “test drive” to experience how GrandCare can be  a tremendous asset in the health and wellness of the individual as well as assist people in the caregiver process.
Contact EquipALife at 763.479.8239, toll free at 1.866.535.8239 or email info@atmn.org and set up a time to have a “GrandCare Experience”.