Breakthrough Technology Improves Elder Care

ALLOWS CLOSER MONITORING FOR THE ELDERLY OR VULNERABLE

How could caregivers or family get early warnings that an elderly person is having difficulty in their living environment, or that a health- or life-threatening incident must be attended to right away? Ideally, they would be alerted about changes in behavior that indicate an imminent problem or sudden emergency.

Warning systems for an elderly person usually bring to mind emergency call buttons or video monitoring. But emergency pendants, pull cords or belts are inconsistently worn and activated by those too feeble or absent-minded to do so. Video monitoring can be an invasion of privacy and, to really work, would have to be watched around the clock to detect an emergency.

For St. Charles technology expert Bryan Jefferson, finding solutions for seniors and others is personal. His brother suffers from schizophrenia. His father has battled multiple serious illnesses all his life. But it was his grandmother’s death that propelled him to find a more effective way to monitor the elderly. Jefferson said his grandmother died alone in her room at a nursing facility because she was unable to call for help.

After her death, Jefferson drew from his extensive knowledge of “smart” technology and created SmartCare Consultants to provide around-the-clock transparent care. His first client was his dad, who had become wheelchair-bound. His father lived 2,000 miles away, and Jefferson wanted to be able to monitor him without being intrusive.

Jefferson and co-founder Scott Moser started with the goal of using monitoring technology to keep elderly adults safe in their own homes longer. Data-collecting sensors throughout the living environment allow care providers and family to passively track daily activities in homes or care communities, and be alerted to emergencies.

The SmartCare system proactively reports if movement or activities seem out of the ordinary. Wireless sensors in beds, couches, toilets, on wall posts and doors are triggered by changes in motion, heat, pressure, water, and light. They collect and transmit information on the person being monitored. Are they in bed? Did they eat? Did they go to the bathroom? Significant changes in behavior patterns that could suggest serious issues trigger warnings. The system can detect if a stove was left on when the senior left the house, or the garage door is open while the resident is asleep.
Cloud-based SmartCare is personalized to each client and can be monitored from anywhere in the world.

Jefferson and Mosher have been deploying the system in hundreds of retirement community rooms since early 2015, and this year they are making it available for installation in private homes. In less than two years, SmartCare has added components that track changes in sleep patterns, temperatures in the home and bathroom usage, which can indicate side effects of medications, dehydration, pneumonia, or falls. Participants select the notifications they want and to whom they will go. Mosher said the goal is for the technology to cost all users less than a dollar a day.

“Imagine caring for an elderly loved one, helping them live safely in place, with dignity and independence,” Jefferson said. “SmartCare provides true 24-hour transparent care through non-obtrusive, intuitive devices that monitor daily activities, reporting anomalies and helping caregivers respond to problems, making sure they are eating, drinking, bathing and remaining active. A light that comes on when they get out of bed immediately reduces falls by over 50%.

SmartCare Consultants is also looking to serve other vulnerable individuals such as the developmentally disabled or mentally ill. For a schizophrenic, aberrations to normal behavior patterns might alert a family member that their loved one has gone off their medications. If someone starts making eight trips to the bathroom every night instead of their normal four, it may warn of a urinary tract infection or dehydration.

To learn more about implementing SmartCare for your loved one, or to see a demonstration, you can call SmartCare Consultants at their St. Charles
headquarters at 855-878-3762, or visit www.smartcareconsultants.com.