Resources for Family Caregivers of Older Adults
Technology To Help Seniors Stay Safe & Healthy Aging in Place at Home

Technology To Help Seniors Stay Safe & Healthy Aging in Place at Home

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We stay on the lookout for technology that improves the lives of both seniors and their families as a key part of our mission at Senior Care Corner.  When we encountered GrandCare Systems at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show, we knew this was a solution about which we wanted to learn more.  In this episode of our podcast we learn together.

We are pleased to welcome Laura Mitchell, GrandCare’s Vice President of Marketing, to join us for a chat at Senior Care Corner.  Laura told us about the personal story behind the founding of the company and GrandCare Systems’ technology and how it helps seniors to stay safe and healthy at home while bringing them closer to their families.

We found it particularly interesting that some have used the GrandCare solution to increase the independence of senior loved ones by linking them via internet to distant family members and other caregivers, which allows at least some to transition from full time to part time in-home care.

In addition to our conversation with Laura, Kathy brings us several news items of interest to seniors and their families and Barry introduces us to the Senior Care Corner Bookstore.

Links Mentioned in this Senior Care Corner Episode

We hope you will enjoy this episode.  Please let us know if you have comments or questions — or if there are other technology solutions you would like us to cover in future blog posts or podcast episodes.

Podcast transcript  (so you can follow along or read at your convenience)

2 Responses to Technology To Help Seniors Stay Safe & Healthy Aging in Place at Home

  1. A disadvantage of being an early adopter of bleeding edge of technology is the lack of standards. GrandCare, Intel-GE Care Innovations, and Waldo Health are all examples of products designed around proprietary hardware and software platforms. These companies had to do most of the development work themselves, and those proprietary designs increase product costs, minimize third-party app development, and limit market penetration. I expect that, if GrandCare were to start over from scratch with the same objectives, they’d instead build apps for the Apple iPad or Android-based tablets and sell services to people using the device that they already have, rather than causing them to buy a new special purpose device.

    As Laura Mitchell said, GrandCare’s value is in its application software and the sensors it interfaces with, but if they had used a more open platform, they wouldn’t have had to also design the user interface or other system level software, just the apps themselves. And users would have been able to install new apps on their own, including those developed by independent third parties, as they do with the Apple iPad.

    GrandCare requires broadband Internet access that’s always-connected, which is another reason I like the iPad for seniors. Once Apple added 3G cellular support and iCloud, it removed the need for a PC, home network, or broadband connection, greatly expanding the iPad market opportunity for eldercare.

    While I do like GrandCare’s ability to let caregivers remotely configure the buttons on a loved one’s system, the fact that this system is based on proprietary technology that requires professional installation will limit market adoption. It’s “programmed” with a set of rules and actions, and adding any new sensor device requires a “truck roll” by the installer to reprogram the system.

    At the recent ATA (American Telemedicine Association) conference here in Austin, I was glad to see that GrandCare is starting to embrace open standards more, and I was also happy to also see a home automation company that now ships new sensor devices, based on Zigbee rather than Bluetooth, that are pre-paired and already configured to work with a customer’s system. I see this as a welcome trend, since the home automation market has been plagued by the “truck roll” installation problem for way too long. That market needs to move from rules-based programming to learning-based intelligent agents that configure themselves and act on behalf of users autonomously. I see indications that this is a trend that’s finally starting to happen.

    For perspective, I’m a retired IBM technologist and market strategist. Now at Modern Health Talk, I write about all sorts of tech solutions for keeping seniors safe, healthy and independent at home.

    • Excellent discussion with great points, Wayne. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts!

      As was discussed at the Digital Health Summit at CES this year, the connected health technologies are still in their infancy and will take some time to catch up with the rest of the connected home — which seems to still be lamenting the existence of multiple standards.

      It will be great to see more devices and applications work together. In the meantime, though, we applaud those who have taken the leap and risk to get out front in meeting needs.

We'd love to hear your thoughts!





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