Teens might be the video generation, and all that goes with that, but the grandparents of those gamers can literally, as the kids say, live their best lives, with help from new digital technology.
A Long Neck home care agency, Seniors Helping Seniors, is bringing new telecommunications technology to its clients, according to owner Amy McDermott.
Her business provides help for area seniors in a variety of areas, from transportation for simple errands and medical appointments to making sure clients are taking their medications and are thriving in their homes.
McDermott, who started her franchise of the national entity after seeing an article about it during an airplane flight, has a background in administration — particularly in the medical field — but she said she never dreamed she would start her own company dealing with the day-to-day lives of seniors.
“Something about that article,” she said, “became an arrow to my heart.”
McDermott said she was attracted to the way the organization employs seniors who are not ready to retire, to serve others in the same basic age group.
She said that since she started her franchise six years ago, though, she has found that “sticker shock” involving the price of home care has been a major hurdle to get over when she speaks with the families of those who want to stay in their homes but need a little help doing so.
“There are a lot of people I can’t help,” McDermott said, because she prides herself in paying her employees well and so she has to charge enough to cover her expenses.
Recently, though, McDermott has discovered that advances in technology will allow her to offer more services for a lower price.
Right now, McDermott can facilitate telemedicine through a system called Pocket MD, which connects clients with technicians who can assess needs and get a physician involved when necessary. Another program, which operates through wireless Bluetooth connection, offers the ability for readings from things like pulse oximeters, thermometers and glucose meters to be read. The information can be sent to just the client or, as needed, a neighbor or relative, or 911 if an emergency is indicated.
What’s coming after that? In the beginning of 2021, McDermott said, her service will sign on another “employee,” named Addison.
Specifically, McDermott explained, “Addison” is an avatar, a computerized helper “who looks like a woman that you would see on a high-end game.” Addison can be programmed with a different set of instructions for interactions with each client.
Those instructions could be as simple as reminders to take medications or as complex as analyzing a client’s gait as a way to predict falls or detect other medical issues.
As an example of a way Addison could prevent a serious problem, McDermott mentioned one client who fell when she went to the garage to feed her cat.
“She had an infection; she wasn’t thinking straight,” McDermott said. The client later said, “‘Now that I think back, I was feeling lightheaded,’” McDermott said. “Addison would have picked that up.”
One way Addison can keep track of medications, McDermott said, is by monitoring the person’s “command center,” which she explained is that place where many seniors line up their medications and other daily essentials.
“She can see their command center,” McDermott said of the virtual helper.
Addison’s skills include “watching” the client take their pill and, by the constriction of the client’s throat, can assess whether the pill was taken properly.
“I’m really excited to offer this 360-degree coverage,” McDermott said. “I’m excited by the quality of it.”
One of the other aspects of Addison is that, as part of the service, the client’s medical information will be stored on a “dashboard” that can be accessed by anyone the client authorizes.
McDermott said she hopes the new service can give peace of mind to clients, as well as families who might not live close enough to physically check in on aging relatives.
“People are bull-headed,” she said, and sometimes don’t seek the help they need. She suggested that people “make plans by the time you’re heading into your 70s,” for in-home services that will allow remaining in one’s home as they age.
For more information on Addison or other Seniors Helping Seniors topics, call (302) 858-7330 or visit the website at www.seniorcarerehoboth.com.