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GrandCare featured in The Guardian UK as a leading technology for aging

Ask Jack

What tech can I use to keep an eye on an ageing parent?

Stephen’s mother lives alone, and he would like some way of knowing that she’s OK, without her losing any of her freedom or independence


My mum is in her mid-sixties, and lives alone. She’s very active, but naturally we worry about things like: what if she falls or is otherwise incapacitated and can’t get to a phone? She has a Moto G (Android), so I’ve been looking for an app that can run in the background and notify me if certain conditions are met. Say, for example, she doesn’t use her phone for 24 hours. I’ve found one called Man Down, which I thought might do the job, but it would require her to log into the app regularly and set it up. I was looking for a “set it and forget it” solution. I’ve also searched for an IFTTT script – say, alert me if she doesn’t log into Facebook for a day – but with no success.

I’m looking for a light-touch solution. She’s not elderly, and I don’t want her to feel like she’s losing any freedom or independence. Do you have any suggestions? Stephen

Countries in the developed world, particularly Japan, have aging populations, and monitoring the safety of older people is becoming a big business. It’s a market that American companies such as GrandCare Systems...are already addressing. The New York Times ran an interesting story about the subject: Technologies Help Adult Children Monitor Aging Parents. However, most require monthly payments, and I haven’t seen any similar services in the UK.

Your mother will probably have heard of Age UK’s service, it retains her independence, isn’t intrusive, and would be entirely under her control. However, it’s relatively expensive, and it doesn’t do very much in comparison with American systems like GrandCare. That would allow you to monitor your mother’s weight and blood pressure, track her movements around the house, and know when she opened the fridge door, for example…

The cost depends on the features, and most are simpler and cheaper. However, a comprehensive system may well be worth the money if it enables an older person to continue living independently at home (in the US jargon, “aging in place“) rather than being moved to a care home


Read the entire article here


GrandCare Systems starts at just $699 to install with a low recurring subscription charge.


Daily News Record reports on GrandCare Technology

Article by DNR Harrisonburg, VA Paper:

Aging In Place
New Technology Helps Seniors Stay In Their Homes Longer
As published in: Daily News Record
By: Jacquelyn Walsh

According to a March 2010 article in the New York Times, the average cost of nursing home care is $200 a day, not including additional fees for specialized services such as Alzheimer’s or dementia care. That amounts to roughly $6,000 a month and $72,000 annually to keep a parent or loved one in a nursing home.

With baby boomers approaching senior citizen status, these figures can be daunting for them and their children. But with technology moving at a rapid pace, new systems are helping seniors “age in place,” or live at home longer.

Elizabeth Roach, 71, of Harrisonburg had a Grand Care System installed in her home a few months ago. Her eldest son, Michael Murdock, came across the product at a technology convention in Florida, and now sells the product as owner of Enhanced Caring, a company based out of Aurora, Colo. Murdock also owns a home automation and integration company, Enhanced Living.

“We do all the cool high tech Jetson stuff to homes,” says Murdock, whose company installs high-tech security systems, home theater systems and now Grand Care Systems throughout the country.

“When I saw the Grand Care System, I thought ‘This is what my mother needs. This is a product that can change her life,’ ” says Murdock. “I am finally involved in a product that’s going to make a difference in the last years of people’s lives, and what I’m doing now makes a difference.”

The system focuses on three functions: communication, cognitive abilities and wellness.

It centers on a computer that allows the homeowner to keep in touch with the outside world and also collects information from sensors installed around the house, reporting data to designated caretakers.

Complete with a touch-screen monitor, this “computer” is free of the hassles of logging on, remembering passwords, downloading files and deleting spam, says Roach, so that she gets the technology of a computer with a simplicity geared toward a senior’s needs.

The computer system also gathers information from pressure mats installed under Roach’s chair and bed, motion sensors on her medicine cabinet and fridge, a heat sensor on the stove and panic buttons next to her bed, the bathtub and at the bottom of the basement stairs. These sensors signal alerts that send warning e-mails to designated people, such as Roach’s children, that lets them know if she hasn’t gotten up yet or has left the stove on for several hours. The system can communicate by sending texts, e-mails and phone calls to designated children or neighbors. This is used to alert these people if anything is out of the ordinary or Roach presses one of the panic buttons, which will also call 911.

Roach also logs on to the computer every morning and does a series of exercises that range from tic-tac-toe to trivia meant to strengthen cognitive functioning. With a scale and blood pressure monitor connected to the system, Roach weighs herself and checks her blood pressure each morning. The numbers are sent to the computer and tracked, showing any fluctuations and making the daily data available should the family wish to send it to a doctor.

“My mom is in pretty good health but she is getting older, so what we did was I got her a weight scale and blood pressure monitor and she checks it every day,” says Murdock. “We can take that information to the doctor and we can set up a rule [in the computer system] to alert someone when something isn’t normal. We don’t want to be intrusive on their lives and we don’t want to invade their privacy,” says Murdock.

With the information gathered from the sensors, Murdock can tell how long his mother sleeps each night and how long she sits in her favorite chair, most likely crocheting. These are not things he checks on constantly though, says Murdock, but uses to gauge patterns in her daily habits, and is alerted when something is wrong.

Roach was skeptical at first and worried about an invasion of her privacy, she says, but once installed, it became routine for her to use the system.

“Because there’s no cameras involved in it and people get into a normal routine of using it, it does not invade their privacy,” says Murdock. “It’s not like I check everything every day. I just find out when there’s something out of the [norm].”

The system costs about $8,000 to install and requires a monthly fee of about $75, more or less depending on what features you choose, says Murdock.

“As I get older I find that I want to stay home more. That’s why I retired,” says Roach. “I have very close relationships with family members; however, independence is important to me. With this system, I feel like I can be independent and know my family is a touch screen away.”

Because Roach lives alone with only one out of her four children nearby, it’s important to help the siblings communicate, says Murdock, a Spotswood High School graduate. “I miss being home and it has helped me as much as it has helped my mom — it gave me another avenue to communicate with her.”

In addition to the safety features, the system also offers more typical computer features. With the photo feature of the system, Roach’s children can upload photos of trips they’ve taken and Roach’s grandkids directly to her computer screen.

“I believe that the general reason behind it all, the core feeling, is that people want to age in place, no one wants to go to a facility,” says Murdock, who says he got the system mainly for communication and the brain exercises.

These systems are not only for those seniors in their last years of their life, Murdock said. It’s important for seniors to begin using the system early on so it becomes second nature for them.

For Roach and Murdock, the new technology has been a blessing for the whole family.

“We’ve distributed the responsibility of caring for my mother to all four children and we’re thousands of miles apart. It’s absolutely changed our lives,” says Murdock. “She feels more connected than ever, and that’s priceless to me.”

Roach and Murdock were featured in a July article of The New York Times, and will be featured on a Discovery Channel special about baby boomers and aging in place in November.

See here for more GrandCare Screen Shots:

INTRODUCING Brand NEW GrandCare HomeBase!!!


GrandCare Systems introduces the revolutionary HomeBase
GrandCare Systems introduces HomeBase, a new system that allows families to use the Internet to communicate and chat with disabled or aging relatives. Individuals with ZERO computer experience are now, for the first time, being VIRTUALLY and socially connected to family members and care partners across the world, without having to know or LEARN anything.

It’s that simple. GrandCare Systems’ HOMEBASE understands that everyone has different chosen methods for communicating; some virtual, some not. The HomeBase converts online communications into an easy to use, microwave-like TOUCHPANEL format for our disabled or aging loved ones.

Suppose a granddaughter wants to send an instant message to her grandfather
Or send over a Frank Sinatra music video that she knows he’ll enjoy. It’s now possible using GrandCare Systems’ HomeBase.

Perhaps a boomer child wants to share an online video of a grandchild learning to walk and follow it up with a quick Email explaining how big she’s gotten. It’s easy and quick using GrandCare Systems’ HomeBase.

Imagine your grandparent being reminded of when to mail out birthday cards, or exactly what time choir practice is tonight. The HomeBase calendar does just that!

Or maybe a wellness professional wants to use 2-way VIDEO chat to really “SEE” how well her client is doing. It’s here with GrandCare Systems’ HomeBase.

Say your great grandmother enjoys receiving messages, photographs and home videos of her growing family, without having to learn how to use a computer. It’s now a reality with GrandCare Systems’ HomeBase.

In our fast-paced, technology-oriented society, online communication is faster, more efficient and better than ever. Nobody should be excluded from connecting to family and friends, no matter where they live! HomeBase is a whole new world of communication between generations.

GrandCare HomeBase starts as low as $1995.00 (plus installation and a low monthly fee). Activity of Daily Living Sensors and Telewellness sensors can be easily integrated with the GrandCare HomeBase. For more information, or to find a local dealer in your area, please visit: www.grandcare.com or call 262-338-6147

GrandCare Systems, 2412 W.Washington St, Suite 10, West Bend, WI 53095 www.grandcare.com info@grandcare.com

GrandCare 2nd article in New York Times


The Technology for Monitoring Elderly Relatives

“IF I ever need to go to a nursing home, kill me first.”…
Customized Services

For those with advanced physical ailments, the ability to contact emergency personnel may not be enough. It wasn’t for Jean Roberts, a 79-year-old retired nurse who had a brain aneurysm 20 years ago, and now suffers from a seizure disorder. She and her daughter, Carol, 52, who is also disabled, set up a system of customized sensors from GrandCare Systems (grandcare.com).

With GrandCare, which averages between $15 and $25 a day, Carol receives cellphone alerts whenever a user-defined set of parameters is breached in her mother’s nearby Daytona Beach, Fla., home.

“I used to call and check on her constantly,” Carol said. “If she gets confused, she wouldn’t remember to push a pendant.”

Carol is automatically alerted if her mother’s front doors are opened before 7 a.m. or after 10 p.m., and a bed sensor alerts her if her mother doesn’t get out of bed by 9 a.m.

If her mother’s home is too hot or too cold, she knows that, too. And if her mother begins to get confused and wanders rapidly from room to room, her daughter also receives an alert.

To help the elder Ms. Roberts feel more connected, she can receive e-mail messages and photographs through the GrandCare system, displayed on her TV or an available touch-screen display.

As her mother ages, Carol expects to add other features. “If she gets worse, we’ll write another parameter, that she can’t leave the house unless I’m notified,” she said. “She has no intention — none — of going into an assisted-care facility.”

For the monitoring of symptoms associated with heart failure and diabetes, Ideal Life (ideallifeonline.com) in Toronto offers a number of devices, including a scale, a blood-pressure meter and a glucose monitor that automatically send data to the company’s Web site, where it can be examined by a caregiver. Text messages or e-mail alerts can also be sent automatically to a caregiver’s smartphone.