SimplyHome is honored to be a recipient of this year’s Sky High Growth Award. Asheville, North Carolina’s Chamber of Commerce awards the Sky High Growth Awards to the fastest growing small businesses for the year. The award is based on outstanding achievements in areas such as sales growth and employment. This is the third Sky High Growth Award for SimplyHome! Click here to see the full list of all 28 businesses honored.
SimplyHome was honored to be a part of this tech summit. Our very own Allen Ray, SimplyHome CEO is featured in this photo. We look forward to providing technology to improve services provided in NC.
Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos on Wednesday encouraged more than 150 behavioral health advocates and specialists attending an Innovative Technologies Summit, to use technology, innovative thinking and teamwork to meet the care needs of North Carolina’s citizens with mental illnesses, intellectual and developmental disabilities and substance abuse disorders.
Technological advances in behavioral healthcare were highlighted and demonstrated at the one-day conference at the Raleigh Convention Center. The conference was organized by the State Division of Mental Health/Developmental Disabilities/Substance Abuse Services and the Governor’s Institute on Substance Abuse. In a welcome to conferees, Wos emphasized Gov. McCrory’s passion for innovations and technology and concern for our citizens who have behavioral healthcare needs.
“Today we bring together this passion for innovation with our vision of improved services in our state for citizens with mental illness, substance abuse disorders and developmental disabilities,” Wos said. “We are looking for better ways to do business, better ways to provide services, and better ways for our citizens to access the services they need.”
Wos directs the many divisions of DHHS to work together to bring more technology to bear in the delivery of health and human services.
The conference attracted top speakers who discussed how North Carolina can take advantage of technology to provide care for citizens in need of services and supports for mental illness, substance use disorders, and intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Presentations on innovative technologies included smartphone applications with GPS and interactive messaging, avatars that can offer brief intervention strategies, and smart home technology with adaptive equipment built in and geared toward an individual’s needs. This technology is used to empower and support individuals to live healthy and independent lives in the community. North Carolina strives to remain a leader in progressive technologies as a means to support prevention, treatment, recovery, and habilitative care.
Several themes were in play during presentations and discussions, including:
- Reducing the barriers to the utilization of innovative technologies by offering a more flexible funding system at the state level;
- Use of technologies as an adjunct to care, rather in place of care; and
- Coordinating technological systems across healthcare agencies as a means to enhance care for the individuals served.
Wos praised the passion for innovation demonstrated by some of the speakers who are top leaders in their fields, including H. Westley Clark, director of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment within the U.S. DHHS Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. He leads the agency’s national effort to provide effective and accessible treatment to all Americans with addictive disorders. He discussed the role of electronic health records as a tool for improving care.
Clark praised North Carolina for dedicating $4 million for telepsychiatry to meet the needs of individuals where few psychiatrists practice, particularly in rural areas. DHHS’ Office of Rural Health and Community Care is responsible for administering this appropriation made by the General Assembly.
Another speaker, Melissa Pinto, assistant professor at Emory University, participated in a team that piloted a three-dimensional, avatar-based program that immerses young adults into a virtual primary care environment. Through the program young adults interact with virtual health care providers and health coaches to practice effective communication about depression symptoms. The technology generates tailored feedback to the participant’s responses.
Rodney Bell, representing the Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities at the University of Colorado, and is an independent consultant in technology management, discussed his software company’s mission to advance the effective use of emerging technology in service of social needs, particularly to promote the quality of life and independent living of people with cognitive disabilities.
Wos encouraged all stakeholders to consider using more technology as a means to enhance outcomes for individuals served. She also noted that these measures offer more opportunities for self-direction and autonomous living in the community.
She praised the speakers and urged providers and innovators alike to help North Carolina find the most economical and effective ways to meet the needs of its citizens.
“Your efforts will allow people to live more independently,” she said. “I believe that if we work together, we can develop system supports that promote independence and self-sufficiency using technology,” she said.
During this busy holiday season, many family members get together for the first time in months. This might be a good time for family members to open the topic and express concern about their parents’ long-term well-being and safety. It is not an easy conversation to have.
Our friends at HomeWatch Caregivers provided us with some indicators that an elder might be in need of home care support and/or technology to maintain their quality of life.
• The condition of the interior and exterior dwelling and landscape show signs of deterioration and neglect
• Newspapers and mail are accumulating and still in the mailbox
• The person’s vehicle looks like it hasn’t been driven in a while and/or there are new scrapes and dents on the body of the vehicle
• The person has trouble ambulating, standing up or sitting down
• The person takes a long time to answer the door
• The demeanor of the person has changed and they seem confused, worried, and/or anxious. They may be forgetful and repeat stories often
• The person’s clothing and general appearance is unkempt. There may be signs of bruises that indicate a recent fall
• The person does not have a local support system
• There are odors of garbage or food. The refrigerator may contain out of date or old food
• It appears that the person is not eating regularly. There are not adequate healthy food choices
• There are possible fall hazards such as blocked or narrow passageways, loose throw rugs, debris on the floors and things stored on the stairwars or electrical cords crossing walkways
• Medications appear to be disorganized, may be out of date, and the person may be confused about what/whan/why the medication is indicated.
• The bathroom may need grab bars, a toilet seat riser, a shower chair and a hand held shower head. Is their evidence that a shower has been taken in the last few days?
• The person’s sleep patterns appear to be disrupted
Granted, not all of these issues indicate that individuals need to move to assisted living With the combination of home care and technology, an individual can independent and in their own home for much longer. Some technology solutions available include:
- Medication dispensers can remind individuals when it is time to take medication as well as be linked to a care center that can notify family, if needed
- Wellness monitoring tools such as blood pressure cuffs, glucose monitors, and pulse oximeters collect health data in confidential online health files and send notifications should an individual’s status exceed the predetermined thresholds
- Wireless sensor systems utilize door/window contacts, bed pressure pads, and even stove sensors to promote independence with activities of daily living
While conversations around these concerns can be difficult, we often encourage families to have them sooner rather than later. Being proactive offers individuals the opportunity to have a plan in place without having to make impulsive decisions if a crisis occurs.
SimplyHome has been fortunate enough to be able to give back this year. On behalf of our customers and partners we have made a generous donation to the No Place Like Home Program. Thank you for all of your support! If you would like to learn more or make a donation yourself, click here.
No Place Like Home
A Program of Eblen Charities in Partnership with SimplyHome
Volunteered for a week and changed for a lifetime–that was our experience with Extreme makeover Home edition, and when we returned to Asheville, we wanted to make the same difference in our own community.
As a result, SimplyHome has partnered with Eblen Charities to create No Place Like Home, a program offering individuals access to the assistive technology they need to live independently at home.
Please enjoy this article written by our friends at DrugWatch.com. The organization is an awareness group that aims to educate the public about prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, and medical devices that have the potential to cause patients serious harm. Their website is continually updated with drug recall news, recent FDA approvals, drug interactions, side effects, and current developments in the medical field.
Important Medical News for Seniors
Older Americans are often prescribed several drugs to manage their health. Even though everyone should be careful when taking medications, it’s important for seniors to know the benefits and risks.
It can be easy to trust a doctor’s orders without really understanding why they are prescribing certain drugs, but the more information patients and doctors have, the more informed decisions can be made. Changes and adjustments can often be made based on a person’s individual circumstances.
Knowledge of how a particular medication works can also alert people to possible dangerous side effects.
There are certain questions seniors should ask their doctor about the medications prescribed. The AARP suggests seniors ask their doctors the following questions in order to help them avoid certain mistakes that could negatively affect their health:
- When and how should I use this new drug?
- What is the purpose of the medication?
- What should I do if I miss a dose?
- Will the drug interact with other medications, vitamins or supplements I’m taking?
- Is a generic or lower-cost brand name medication available?
- What side effects, reactions or warning signs should I watch out for?
Knowledge about prescription drugs doesn’t stop with those questions. Medical news is always changing. Studies often show that medications once thought of as safe could do damage after long-term use or when mixed with other medications. Some of these drugs lead to the development of more damaging diseases.
Diabetes Drugs May Increase Cancer, Other Health Risks
There are several pills that fight Type 2 diabetes on the market that don’t use insulin to treat the condition. Instead, many of them stimulate insulin production in the body. Some people take a combination of the medications to treat the condition.
Studies show that many who were prescribed these drugs have reported developing certain illnesses linked to popular diabetes medications:
- Actos: Bladder cancer, heart problems
- Byetta & Bydureon: Pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer, thyroid cancer, heart attack
- Januvia & Janumet: Pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer and kidney problems
- Victoza: Pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer, thyroid and gland issues
As always, when it comes to taking certain medications for certain conditions, it’s up to the patient to discuss the risk and benefits with their doctors. Type 2 diabetes can be managed. It’s much harder to manage certain heart conditions and cancers.
Making healthy food choices, getting exercising and losing weight may also decrease your need for these medications. Patients can work with their doctors to safely manage their conditions.
Important Medical Device News
Medical devices are technological advances that have helped improved peoples’ lives. However, not all of them work as intended. Some are recalled due to defects.
Metal-on-metal hip implants have been the subject of many medical headlines over the past few years. In the past, most implants, which mimic the ball and the socket joint of the hip, were made of plastic and ceramic.
The metal-on-metal prosthetics were originally thought to be an innovation for hip replacement surgery. Instead of being stronger and longer-lasting than implants made from other materials, they were a disaster for patients.
Thousands of patients have claimed injury due to the implants breaking early or rubbing together and sending metal debris into their bloodstream, causing blood poisoning. In many cases, metal-on-metal hip implant recipients underwent revision surgeries, which meant replacing their hip implant.
Johnson & Johnson has been in the news lately for their metal-on-metal prosthetics. J&J will pay $2.5 billion dollars to settle at least 8,000 lawsuits against its subsidiary company DePuy Orthopaedics. Patients claimed the ASR Hip Implant system caused serious complications.
Stryker is just one of several metal hip manufacturing companies with pending lawsuits. The company’s neck and stem components for their Rejuvenate and ABG II products were also blamed for causing those same health concerns.
Manufacturers including Biomet, Zimmer and Wright Medical are also facing lawsuits that claim their devices were faulty and caused injury.
Stay Informed and Follow Up on Prescriptions
Any information you can get about the drugs or devices you’re using can help you. Patients should ask their doctors to review their medications at least once a year and ask whether they are still needed at their current dosage.
Making healthy choices involves being fully informed. Knowledge empowers a patient to understand why they are making certain choices and the potential consequences of those actions. Information gives them the opportunity to ask their physicians questions and understand what the doctor is talking about.
- National Institute on Aging. (n.d.) Age Page: Diabetes In Older People-A Disease you Can Manage. [Fact Sheet] Retrieved from http://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/diabetes-older-people
- Drugwatch. (n.d.) Dangerous Drugs. Drugwatch.com. Retrieved from http://www.drugwatch.com/drugs-and-devices/
- AARP (2012, December 7). 9 Types of Medication Older Adults Should Use With Caution. AARP.com. Retrieved from http://www.aarp.org/health/drugs-supplements/info-07-2011/medications-older-adults-should-use-with-caution.html
- National Institutes Of Health. (n.d.) Taking Medicines. [Fact sheet]. Retrieved from http://nihseniorhealth.gov/takingmedicines/sideeffects/01.html
- Hollmer, M. (2013, November 19) Updated: J&J acknowledges $2.5B-plus hip lawsuit settlement agreement. Firece Medical Devices. Retrieved from http://www.fiercemedicaldevices.com/story/reported-jj-hip-settlement-drops-25b-conditions-added/2013-11-19
- Drugwatch. (n.d.) Stryker and Stryker Orthopaedics. Drugwatch.com Retrieved from http://www.drugwatch.com/manufacturer/stryker-orthopaedics/
This year the SimplyHome team is proud to announce that we raised $1,765 during the annual Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s. This is the nation’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research.
President Ronald Reagan designated November as National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month in 1983. November is also Family Caregivers Month. During the month, we want to help raise awareness for Alzheimer’s and honor millions of caregivers.
In honor of November being National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, we want to highlight a presentation recently done by SimplyHome and a local geriatric care manager, Amy Fowler. The presentation took place at the Alzheimer’s Association’s Regional Caregiver Education Conference in Arden, NC. The focus was on family awareness of both a care manager and technology to care for an aging loved one.
What is Residential Assistive Technology?
- A way to provide families with peace of mind as their loved ones age
- Another option for independent living
- Products and services that support basic activities of daily living and/or monitor safety
- One part of the “safety net” of care services
What solutions can residential assistive technology offer?
- Monitoring elopement, wandering, egress
- Supporting cooking safety
- Tracking sleep patterns
- Alerting to potential falls or mobility issues
- Reminders for home routines and activities
What is a Geriatric Care Manager?
- Social worker, nurse, gerontologist or other mental health care professional
- Specialized training, experience in the field, and familiarity with community resources
- Follows a strict Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice developed by NAPGCM
- Hourly fee: $70-100
It was an honor to be a presenter at this year’s conference and we look forward to providing families with more tools in the future. If you have any questions about solutions that are available, please contact us Toll Free at 877-684-3581.
The Dankner’s Story
We had the opportunity to sit down and talk with a customer who happens to be the first person in the state of North Carolina to receive our assistive technology funded through the Innovations Waiver. Lisa Dankner is the mother of Natalie Dankner who is a 26-year-old women living with autism and using SimplyHome technology to remain as independent as possible.
“My husband travels, and this system has been a godsend in terms of having more of a normal life,” says Lisa.
The system was installed in the Dankner’s home is January of 2012. They are using a combination of door/window sensors, water sensors, smoke sensors and a pendant to control when the system is on and off to monitor Natalie’s safety when it comes to some of her behaviors.
“It’s our day that is different,” says Lisa.
Some of Natalie’s behaviors that are of concern are leaving the home without anyone knowing, lighting things on fire using the kitchen stove, and flooding the home. Natalie has had a history of clogging the toilets. Lisa says they have spent thousands in repairs already and are now able get a notification before it is too late.
“Sleeping at night was difficult because Natalie gets up at all times of the day and night. With the SimplyHome System, I feel confident, with the settings we have, she wouldn’t be out the door long before we would be woken. It actually allows me to have normal sleep,” says Lisa.
Funding For Technology
Lisa spoke about the challenges she has had with Medicaid and what she has learned during the process. “Hopefully we are leading the way for other people in the state to be able to experience the benefits of using SimplyHome technology,” Lisa said.
After Natalie was approved for the Innovations Waiver, Natalie’s case manager submitted a system recommendation to the state for approval for the assistive technology. The challenge is often giving a vision to funders as to how sensor tools can create improved safety and independence. Lisa has been an amazing advocate for her daughter and did not stop fighting when times got tough.
Natalie is now a productive member of the community – working, volunteering, shopping, going to church and living as every human being should, with dignity and independence.
Natalie is passionate about being an independent young woman. Lisa says her daughter’s autism has been “a life long learning process.” She is committed to finding what solutions give Natalie maximum independence.
Aging in place is what we are all about. With the dramatic shrinkage in caregivers in the coming years, we encourage families and caregivers to start utilizing assistive technology. Not only does it allow the individual to stay in their home longer, but it gives the family peace of mind and a way to check on their loved ones without always having to be there. This is a great article to get us thinking about what other tools are available and how we can start to apply them.
Many seniors are able to age in place with the help of informal caregivers, but a dramatically shrinking caregiver supply in relation to the booming senior population will have major implications for long-term care in coming years.
“Family caregivers—including family members, partners, or close friends—are a key factor in the ability to remain in one’s home and in the community when disability strikes,” says the AARP Public Policy Institute in an Insight report. “More than two-thirds of Americans believe that they will be able to rely on their families to meet their [long-term services and supports] needs when they require help, but this belief may collide with the reality of dramatically shrinking availability of family caregivers.”
The United States is less than two decades away from what’s been called “the 2030 problem”—when a large number of boomers enter late old age at the same time that the caregiving population is in steep decline, says AARP.
“These trends have had major implications for public programs that provide LTSS assistance,” says the report.
What’s happening is a plummet in the “caregiver support ratio”—the number of potential caregivers between the ages of 45 and 64, for each person aged 80 and older. The 80-plus demographic is the most likely to need LTSS, says AARP, while the boomer generation is currently functioning as the most common age range for caregivers.
Between 2010 and 2030, the caregiver support ratio will go from seven potential caregivers for each person in the “high-risk” years of 80-plus, down to four.
“The departure of the boomers from the peak caregiving years will mean that the population aged 45–64 is projected to increase by only 1 percent between 2010 and 2030,” says the paper. “During the same period, the 80-plus population is projected to increase by a whopping 79 percent.”
Seven in 10 people aged 80 and older had some kind of disability in 2010, AARP says, while nearly 56% have a severe disability and about a third need assistance from others with one or more activities of daily living.
Timely policy action is needed to meet the expected needs of the growing senior population, says the report.
“Rising demand and shrinking families to provide support suggest that the United States needs a comprehensive person- and family-centered LTSS policy that would better serve the needs of older persons with disabilities, support family and friends in their caregiving roles, and promote greater efficiencies in public spending,” AARP concludes. “The challenges that face us are real, but they are not insurmountable—if we begin now to lay the foundation for a better system of LTSS and family support for the future.”
Written by Alyssa Gerace
We continue to expand our products and services. Because Telehealth is still new and we get so many inquiries about the technology, we thought sharing this tutorial would be beneficial. Please take a minute to listen to our interview with Gabrielle Corey, a SimplyHome Customer Service Representative. She has taken the lead on implementing the technology and training staff and partners on how to use the equipment. She recently spearheaded a pilot program for the Telehealth Suite and has some great data that you will hear her share.
What you can expect in this tutorial:
- nuts and bolts of the new Telehealth Suite
- benefits vs limitations of the equipment
- pilot program overview and data analysis