Aging in Place – There’s an App for That

Posted on 01/11/2013 by | Caregiving | Comments

Taking care of elderly parents can raise any number of personal emotions for children who find they aren’t getting any younger themselves. More than once, I found myself – single, with no children of my own – wondering to whom I would turn at age 86, when living on my own might be proving to be just a bit more than I could handle. Fortunately, assistive technology is advancing at a rapid clip, and it could play a big role in helping more of us stay in our own homes in the next few decades. Following is a sampling of some of the ways equipment makers are building on some current offerings in ways that could help us Boomers age more gracefully in place.

  • Personal emergency response systems. The old “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” medical-alert products already have gone cellular. Today’s latest GPS-based systems, like the 5Star from Jitterbug maker GreatCall work outside the home,  and can help find a wandering loved one. Built-in gyroscopes in some current products also can help detect falls, even when someone is unconscious.
  • Home telehealth equipment. We had a unit that included a scale, blood-pressure/heart-rate monitor and blood-oxygen meter. Dad’s daily readings went to a central monitoring agency and any outlying results got a quick call from a nurse. GE and Intel recently teamed up on the Care Innovations Guide, which works on any Windows 7 device with a webcam and even enables 2-way video calls with your participating doctor or nurse.  It also offers remote glucose monitoring for diabetes patients.
  • Caregiving coordination. The phone was incredibly helpful to me as a caregiver: It was how I reached out to vent to distant family and friends. But with products like the new – and free – CarePartners Mobile app from Philips (developer of LifeLine home monitoring systems), caregivers can use their smartphones to improve their lives, not just complain about them. Users create a community of family and friends, and a list of tasks (doctor appointments, shopping, or just social engagement) for which those members can volunteer. Tasks can be added directly to your phone’s electronic calendar and email or text messages can help remind volunteers of their commitments.
  • The “Internet of Things.” So, you may have heard of (and laughed about) refrigerators that monitor their own contents to create automated shopping lists. “Who could need such a thing?” you might’ve asked. Well, think how valuable knowing the milk in mom’s frig is a week past its freshness date could be. Just in the last couple years, manufacturers from lock-maker Kwikset to lighting leader Philips have introduced wireless home products that can be programed and controlled via smartphone and monitored remotely. Have a senior moment and forget your house key? Well, now there’s an app for that.

Read the Full Article on AARP’s Blog

Giving Back

Screen Shot 2012-12-10 at 9.50.04 AM This month CEPro shared the industry’s stories of charity. SimplyHome was features for its No Place Like Home Program, a partnership between SimplyHome and Eblen Charities that offers individuals access to the assistive technology and home automation they need to live independently at home.

We are honored to be recognized and encourage our friends, all of you, to contribute to the No Place Like Home fund, if you can this holiday season. The article features the first ever family to receive technology through the program. It was a mother and her second-grade son who has autism. The mother was looking for a GPS tracking device because the school has lost him so many times due to elopement.

Click HERE to Donate to the No Place Like Home Fund

Click HERE to Read the Full Article in the Giving Issue (SimplyHome Featured on Page 56)Screen Shot 2012-12-10 at 9.49.24 AM

SimplyHome, LLC Receives the 2012 Stephen E. Sallee Award of Excellence for Assistive Technology

The North Carolina Assistive Technology Program Grand Advisory Council awards SimplyHome, LLC for their significant contribution to the field of Assistive Technology.

The Grant Advisory Council of the NC Assistive Technology Program recognizes individuals, professionals, and organizations that have made significant contributions to the lives of people with disabilities through their efforts in the field of assistive technology.

awardSimplyHome is honored to be acknowledged for our contribution to furthering access to assistive technology devices and services for North Carolina citizens with disabilities.

SimplyHome defined an entirely new market and use for assistive technology. Beginning in 2003, when home automation technologies mostly catered to security needs and making life more comfortable and convenient, Allen Ray realized an opportunity to give greater independence and improved quality of life to individuals with disabilities while passing on the savings to state Medicaid plans and individual families.

“We are humbled to receive this award and inspired to make a difference in as many lives as possible. We especially recognize that this is a team effort, ” says Allen Ray, SimplyHome CEO.

SimplyHome has helped transform Medicaid reimbursement methodologies in several states through their proven high quality care delivered at a fraction of the traditional care delivery methods. SimplyHome’s application of technology, paired with appropriate caregiver supports, has single-handedly enhanced the care and options of people who are aging or have a disability.

“We have worked very hard the past 10 years to use assistive technology to improve the quality of life for persons challenged by aging concerns or disability and to remain fiscally responsible. We are thrilled and privileged to receive this award,” says Drue Ray, SimplyHome Vice President.

The Gift of Love

This time of year brings with it visits to family near and far.  The holidays offer us the opportunity to connect with people we haven’t seen in awhile and also check in on how loved ones are doing.

As family members age, we often see distinct changes in health and living patterns from visit to visit, and we may become concerned with their level of independence.  What indicators might suggest that loved ones need assistance or technology for aging in place?

  • Change in physical appearance—Have they lost or gained a noticeable amount of weight?  Are they taking care of their general appearance such as being dressed neatly or brushing their hair?
  • Changes in routine—Are they engaging in their regular eating, toileting, and bathing activities?  Have they become more sedentary?  Do they avoid certain activities due to pain or disinterest?
  • Changes in social status—Have they become more isolated?  Do they find excuses for avoiding activities outside of the home that used to be meaningful to them?
  • Changes in mood—Do they seem more irritable, withdrawn, sad, or quiet?  Are conversations reduced to simple yes/no responses?  Do they refute everything you say, OR do they agree to everything because it’s easier?
  • Changes in health—Do they have any noticeable memory, ambulation, or speech issues?  Are they refusing medical care, OR are they accessing more medical care than before?  Are they taking too much or too little medication?

photo(4)Granted, not all of these issues indicate that individuals need to move to assisted living   With the number of wellness products and sensor systems in the market today, technology can provide dignified and affordable solutions for aging in place.

  • 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, I 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.

Cameron Kempson, M.Ed.

Cameron is the Client Care and Education Specialist with SimplyHome.  She has worked with families in the fields of aging and disabilities for more than 20 years.

Caring for the Caregiver-National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

As National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month and National Family Caregivers Month come to a close, we thought we would spotlight a very important topic –caring for the caregiver.  With the rising costs of medical care, providing residential support for people with Alzheimer’s disease often falls to those closest to them, both friends and family.

According to the March 2012 Alzheimer’s Association Fact Sheet:

  • In 2011, 15.2 million family and friends provided 17.4 billion hours of unpaid care to those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias – care valued at $210.5 billion.
  • More than 60 percent of Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers rate the emotional stress of caregiving as high or very high; one-third report symptoms of depression.
  • Due to the physical and emotional toll of caregiving on their own health, Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers had $8.7 billion in additional health care costs in 2011.

What can you do to support someone who is providing care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia?

  • Offer them respite.  Volunteer to be the care provider for a while or assist them in locating someone who can offer supports while they take a break.
  • Connect them with a support system.  Whether it’s by listening to their concerns or connecting them with a local support group, caregivers need to know they are not alone.
  • Support a healthy lifestyle.  Make sure the caregiver doesn’t sacrifice his/her health while caring for others.  Eating healthily, exercising, and rest are important to maintaining their ability to care.
  • Access community resources.  The Alzheimer’s Association and other organizations often have local sites that offer information, support groups, counseling, respite, etc. for those who are providing care.
  • Lighten the load.  While they are caring for the loved one, take on some of the other home or family tasks that they may be struggling to do.  Often assisting with basic daily chores can reduce stress for a caregiver.
  • Offer help then ask “How?”  Caregivers typically try to do it all so they don’t have to burden others.  By knowing that someone is willing to step in, they may be more likely to seek assistance.
  • Consider utilizing technology.  Pairing tools such as GPS watches or monitoring with wireless sensors can often provide safeguards during those “just in case” times, such as during the night.  Technology cannot replace the human touch, but it can offer caregivers an additional set of “eyes and ears.”

Most notably, remind the caregiver that caring for him/herself is just as important as caring for the loved one.  I often tell family caregivers to think of the statement that flight attendants use on an airplane:  “First, put the oxygen mask on yourself so that you can take care of those around you.”  Maintaining good health and getting enough rest isn’t selfish—it only ensures that the caregiver will be able to provide the loving support needed for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Cameron Kempson, M.Ed.

Cameron is the Client Care and Education Specialist with SimplyHome.  She has worked with families in the fields of aging and disabilities for more than 20 years.

Challenges of Saying Good-Bye


Alzheimer’s Gets Personal-We are Sharing Our Stories

Thank you ladies for sharing such beautiful stories! It is important to focus on the positive moments when you’re dealing with this disease, and what GREAT stories these are!

Two Generations Shared the Light of Their Lives

When my daughter was young, my grandparents lived in the assisted living wing of a local retirement community. Sharing their apartment pod was a woman who had dementia.  She rarely recognized people who spent time with her regularly–family, caregivers, neighbors.

Hayley and I would visit Pop and Granny several times a week.  We would always say hello to that sweet woman, and she would always ask my daughter’s name, and my little preschooler would shout out, “Hayley!”  One day, we noticed the elderly woman sitting in her wheelchair, head down, disoriented, and moaning. My daughter skipped toward her-her body expressing all the joy that fills a four-year-old’s heart. As the woman heard Hayley’s voice, she looked up, and a grin crept across her face. My young child scrambled up into her lap, and the woman called out, “Hayley!” Hayley gave her a kiss, hopped down, then pushed her chair a bit. The woman began laughing. Hayley giggled then told her, “We’re going to see Granny and Pop.” The lady, warmed by Hayley’s presence, held out her hand and touched Hayley’s shoulder. Regardless of the dementia, in that moment, both generations shared the light of their lives.


Laughter is the Best Medicine

I was fortunate enough to live in the same city as my grandparents and was able to visit them often and get to know them well. My dad’s mother developed Alzheimer’s disease long before I ever knew anything about it. Looking back on it, there were plenty of warning signs (like putting things where they do not belong – burnt-out lightbulbs in her freezer) and the biggest was when she called my uncle from the pizza place down the street from her house, completely lost and scared. She’d lived in that neighborhood for more than 50 years. That’s when we started looking for help and began educating ourselves about the disease and what resources were available.
It’s important to focus on the positive moments when you’re dealing with this disease. It can be frustrating to have to repeat things over and over and over again to someone with Alzheimer’s who has no recollection of a conversation you may have just had with them. That being said, it can also be an opportunity to offer someone joy repeatedly as well. There was this joke I used to tell my Tata (literally over and over again) and it would make her laugh every time, which made all of us laugh with joy every time because she was having such fun!
“Hey Tata”
“Yes, Lovey?”
“How do you make Holy water?”
“You boil the hell out of it!!”
I still chuckle to myself when I think about how she used to laugh at that joke, sometimes six or seven times in one visit. It felt so good to make her laugh and while there was absolutely nothing I could do about the course the disease was taking, I was happy to brighten her mood (and my family’s mood) whenever I could. She passed away Christmas of 2006 but I still think of her all the time and cherish the memories I have, while I still have them.

Are You Aware of How Assistive Technology Can Help Someone with Alzheimer’s Disease?

National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month

President Ronald Reagan designated November as National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month in 1983. At the time, fewer than 2 million Americans had Alzheimer’s; today, the number of people with the disease has soared to nearly 5.4 million.  Get involved this month, and help raise awareness for Alzheimer’s disease.

The Facts on Alzheimer’s Disease

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, in 2012, 1 in 8 adults over the age of 65 will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.  Another American develops the disease every 68 seconds, and it is estimated that by 2050, up to 16 million will have the Alzheimer’s.

The estimated costs of caring for this population in 2012 will total more than $200 billion.  In addition, more than 15 million family and friends will provide at least 17 billion hours of unpaid care valued at $210.5 billion.  Clearly, Alzheimer’s disease is not only an emotional stressor for caregivers and families, but a financial one as well.

How Can Assistive Technology Help?

The primary goal for integrating assistive technology into an Alzheimer’s care plan is to offer support to the family members offering care.   Products and services available in the market today can address issues such as wandering, safety, and medication compliance.

At SimplyHome, we work with families and caregivers to develop customized systems of care.  Products range from GPS watches to medication dispensers to our wireless SimplyHome System.  Along with equipment, our services also include:

  • Offering environmental controls to develop independence with home living skills
  • Customizing wireless sensor systems that alert individuals, families or service providers to changes in routines
  • Providing a website that tracks trends in activities of daily living to support skill development, care management and service planning
  • Helping families access other products that address specific safety concerns such as wandering

Assistive technology can be another tool for those who are providing care and monitoring safety.  It can also track changes in physical and behavioral status so that families and health providers can address issues prior to a crisis.  Assistive technology cannot replace the love and support families and caregivers offer.  What it can provide, however, is an affordable solution to concerns that families may have for their loved ones living with Alzheimer’s disease. Visit our website at for more information.

SimplyHome Mentors Young Innovators in the Community

Edison Award Finalist, SimplyHome, teaches children about innovative technology and aging in place.

Asheville, NC (PRWEB) November 05, 2012

When Claxton Elementary decided to participate in the FIRST™ Lego™ League Robotics Competition, they called on SimplyHome. The theme for this year’s Lego competition required the students to design a product that would benefit senior adults, and SimplyHome was honored to encourage the young innovators.

Over eight weeks time, SimplyHome staff shared experience, knowledge and resources to guide the children through their critical problem solving process. In the end, the students expressed an awareness of and appreciation for the ways innovative technology can assist senior adults.

“We started this project focused on what we could teach the students, but left energized and excited by what they taught us,” says Allen Ray, SimplyHome CEO.

Last year, SimplyHome received an Edison Award for innovation in technology. As a finalist the company was encouraged to give back to current and future innovators through storytelling, direct teaching and communication.

The SimplyHome System™ by SimplyHome, LLC was awarded an Edison Bronze Medal for “Best New Product.” The distinguished Edison Awards embody the persistence and excellence personified by Thomas Alva Edison, inspiring America’s drive to remain in the forefront of innovation, creativity and ingenuity in the global economy. The SimplyHome System™ is a winner in the “Lifestyle and Social Impact” category, one of fifteen categories honored by the Edison Awards.

The SimplyHome System™ utilizes multiple sensors to log activities of daily living and proactively notify caregivers and loved ones of changes in behavioral patterns. Text, email or phone alerts can be generated by a single event, an intersection of multiple events or by inactivity. Assigned family or caregivers may log in to their SimplyHome account to view activity and trends in daily living patterns.

Components like motion sensors, door and window contacts, and bed pressure pads address issues including falls, wandering, and sleep routines. The SimplyHome System™ can also monitor wellness priorities ranging from blood pressure and glucose levels, to weight and medication management.

Watch VIDEO Here.

About SimplyHome

SimplyHome designs and installs wireless technology products and related care-focused services. The company is committed to promoting affordable and dignified solutions for independent living – specifically to aging and disabled populations nationwide. SimplyHome is known for its highly-customizable systems that are tailored to meet each customer’s specific needs.

SimplyHome products and services range from voice-activated environmental controls (as shown recently on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition), Personal Emergency Response Systems, GPS watches, motion sensors, and stove monitors to Virtual Care Management® – SimplyHome’s model for client care.

For more information, visit:

Innovative Services, Inc. Recognized by Modern Healthcare Magazine as one of Healthcare’s Fastest-Growing Healthcare Companies

My Innovative Services utilizes SimplyHome technology to empower greater independence to individuals living with a disability.

Asheville, NC

SimplyHome would like to congratulate Innovative Services, Inc., our Wisconsin based partner who has been named one of Healthcare’s Hottest Companies. Innovative Services provides supports and services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities through the use of innovative technology.

Modern Healthcare recognized 40 of the fastest growing companies by growth from 2006 to 2011 in these sectors: hospitals/hospital systems, physician group practices, payers/insurers, and suppliers. It’s growth of over 105% ranks Innovative Services as 32nd on their list.

Innovative Services, Inc. provides flexible, accessible and family-centered supports and services to developmentally disabled and special needs consumers in Wisconsin. As they work to improve the lives of the people they serve, Innovative Services understands the importance of utilizing the funds available for healthcare, inclusive of SimplyHome technology to promote greater independence.

“We believe our understanding the needs of individuals who require the supports we provide, tied to recognizing the limitations to the assets available, is the secret to our successful growth,” says Rick Bahr, Chief Operating Officer of Innovative Services.

Modern Healthcare is the industry’s leading source of healthcare business and policy news, research and information. They report on important healthcare events and trends, as they happen, through their weekly print magazine, websites, e-newsletters, mobile products and events. Modern Healthcare magazine is ranked No. 1 in readership among healthcare executives and deemed a “must-read” by the who’s who in healthcare.

The weekly print magazine, websites, e-newsletters, mobile products and events provide a powerful and all-encompassing industry presence.

Requirements to be eligible for Modern Healthcare’s Fastest Growing Healthcare Companies are:

  • Be headquartered in the U.S.
  • Have at least $20 million in revenue for 2011, and
  • Have been in business for five years or more.

All submitted financial documentation was tabulated and analyzed by Modern Healthcare. A sample of Modern Healthcare’s tabulations were independently assessed by the accounting and management consulting firm of Deloitte & Touche.

About Innovative Services, Inc.

Since its inception in 2004, Innovative Services has been dedicated to providing safe and healthy support services that encourage maximum independence for the people they serve.

That emphasis on individual independence and choice makes Innovative Services the preferred supplier for consumers in Wisconsin. The company now serves more than 850 developmentally disabled children and adults throughout the state.

For more information visit:

About SimplyHome, LLC

SimplyHome designs and installs wireless technology products and related care-focused services. The company is committed to promoting affordable and dignified solutions for independent living – specifically to aging and disabled populations nationwide. SimplyHome is known for its highly-customizable systems that are tailored to meet each customer’s specific needs.

SimplyHome products and services range from voice-activated environmental controls (as shown recently on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition), Personal Emergency Response Systems, GPS watches, motion sensors, and stove monitors to Virtual Care Management® – SimplyHome’s model for client care.  SimplyHome is a 2012 Edison Award winner for “Best New Product.”

For more information, visit: .

How in the World Will We Care for All the Elderly?


This is a great article published in the New York Times today.

How in the World Will We Care for All the Elderly?


All over the world, people are living longer than ever before and posing caregiving challenges that span the globe.

We think of this phenomenon as particularly true of wealthy “first world” countries like the United States. But it’s not.

Consider these facts, drawn from a fascinating new portrait of global agingpublished by the United Nations Population Fund:

  • Developing countries in Africa, Asia and other regions are experiencing the most rapid aging of their populations, not developed countries like those in Europe or North America. “Today, almost two in three people aged 60 or over live in developing countries, and by 2050, nearly four in five will live in the developing world,” the report says. (While 60 isn’t considered an entry point into older age here, it’s the cutoff used by the United Nations.)
  • Developing countries are also seeing the fastest growth in the ranks of the “oldest old” — in this report, those 80 years old and above. By 2050, an estimated 280 million people in developing countries – most of them women, who tend to live longer than men – will be in this category, compared with 122 million in developed regions. Of course, this is the population group most likely to become frail by virtue of age and illness and to require the greatest assistance.

Here are some other facts that made my head spin: Almost 58 million people worldwide will turn 60 this year. By 2050, there will be more old people than children under the age of 15 for the first time in history.

It’s hard to wrap one’s mind around a demographic change of this magnitude and the caregiving challenges that it entails.

The true nightmare prospect is this: People live longer, with more chronic illnesses like high blood pressure or diabetes, in poorer health, requiring more attention from family members and costly medical care.

Should the globalization of aging follow that path, the strains on governments and families will be extraordinary and potentially devastating.

The best picture is this: People live longer, in good health, remaining productive, valued members of society who contribute in workplaces, communities and families through their later years, and are treated respectfully and supported economically and socially as they become frail.

The authors of the United Nations report argue that those goals are achievable, with well-thought-out policies and a firm commitment to care for the elderly while taking advantage of their wisdom, skills and experience.

But data in the report speaks to the enormous scope of this challenge. Witness this nugget: “Worldwide, more than 46 percent of people aged 60 years and over have disabilities and more than 250 million older people experience moderate to severe disability.”

Which conditions top the list in developing countries? Visual impairments like cataracts, glaucoma, refractive errors and macular degeneration, which currently affect 94.2 million people, hearing loss (43.9 million people), osteoarthritis (19.4 million) and ischemic heart disease (11.9 million).

Who will take care of older adults with these problems? Once it was a given that families would do so in the developing world, where nearly three-quarters of adults live in intergenerational households rather than on their own, which is the norm in the United States and Europe.

But as middle-aged adults leave rural areas for economic opportunities in the city – this is happening in Africa, large parts of China and other regions — older adults are left behind to tend to grandchildren and take care of themselves as best they can, without the aid of adult children.

“Informal support systems for older persons are increasingly coming under stress as a consequence, among others, of lower fertility, out-migration of the young, and women working outside the home,” the United Nations report observes.

What this means is that the old are taking care of the old in many instances.

Japan is currently the oldest country in the world, the only one where elders represent more than 30 percent of the total population. There, about 60 percent of so-called informal caregivers (friends or relatives who care for older people voluntarily, without being paid) are 50 or older.

“This percentage can be expected to increase steeply over the coming decades as a consequence of population aging,” the United Nations report says.

Thirty-eight years from now, 64 countries will stand alongside Japan with seniors exceeding 30 percent of their total populations.

It’s no surprise that the United Nations Population Fund reiterates the need for greater support for caregivers of the elderly. Progress is being made, it notes, with some countries (the Russian Federation, the Slovak Republic, Turkey, the United Kingdom and Canada) introducing paid “allowances” for caregivers, others passing laws supporting caregivers (Japan, Finland and Sweden) and still others developing national strategies relating to caregiving (Australia, New Zealand and Britain) But the needs outstrip resources being made available, in those nations, as well as here.

Countries around the world a decade ago developed a framework, known as the Madrid International Plan of Action on Aging, to respond to these trends and others, and a meeting is being held on Wednesday in New York to discuss the progress they’re making.

No one suggests enough is being done. But increasingly, there’s an awareness that the aging of the globe doesn’t lie off on the horizon: It’s a reality, here and now, and unfolding at breathtaking speed.

Enlightened policies, including those dealing with caregiving, may make a great difference in the experience of older adults in the years to come. Stasis and a failure to envision new ways of responding to these demographic shifts, both here in the United States and in the world that surrounds us, no longer seem an option, but the way ahead remains unclear.


A Choice of Community Care, in Your Own Home



A Choice of Community Care, in Your Own Home



For 51 years, Catherine Mack has lived in a four-bedroom house in Haddon Township, N.J. Even at age 96, she has no intention of leaving.

Joining other older adults at a nearby retirement community doesn’t appeal to her, although the facility is attractive and has a great reputation.

“I think in a place like that, life is restricted,” Ms. Mack explained. “You eat at a certain time, and you’re always around other people. I am more on the side that I like to do what I want to do when I want to do it.”

So this independent woman instead selected to get services at home from the retirement community’s “C.C.R.C. without walls” program.

Only a dozen continuing care retirement community — C.C.R.C. — programs like this exist across the country, mostly east of the Mississippi. But several more are under development, and experts believe the concept may be poised to expand more broadly in the years ahead.

How does it work?

In traditional continuing care communities, members pay a substantial entry fee ($250,000 and up) and monthly fees (typically $2,000 to $4,000 a month) for housing, with a lot of on-site amenities and a guarantee that assisted living and nursing home care will be available, if needed. The model is “come to us and you’ll get what you need — all in one place.”

In a continuing care program without walls, members also pay an entry fee ($20,000 to $70,000) and monthly fees ($250 to $800) and receive a similar guarantee of lifelong care, with a twist. The main focus of these programs is helping people stay healthy and independent in their homes for as long as possible. This model can be summed up as “let us bring what you need to you — or find a way to make it easy for you to get it.”

With retirement nest eggs shrunken because of the recession, and 90 percent of older adults indicating they want to age in place at home, “this was something we feel makes a lot of sense,” said Larry Yachcik, president of Porter Hills Retirement Communities and Services in Grand Rapids, Mich., one of the nation’s newest providers of such services.

Armen Oumedian, 89, who joined soon after the Porter Hills program opened in July, said, “I see this as a tremendous way to lift a responsibility off the shoulders of my family and make it so I can live a continuing life in the community.”

“It’s a great comfort, a great security, to know you’ll be taken care of and that you’ve made all the necessary arrangements,” he said.

Programs vary, but all rely on care coordinators to get to know members, understand their living situations, keep an eye on their physical health, and handle problems that come up.

Five years ago, when Ms. Mack had several serious medical problems that put her in the hospital for nearly seven months, “my care coordinator had her finger in the pie all the time,” she said. “If there was any little bump in what I was going through, she was right there, trying to fix it.”

Her daughter, also named Catherine Mack, 61, said, “It was an unbelievable comfort to us.”

Most programs cover the full cost of any in-home care that’s needed (home health care nurses or companions who help older people bathe and dress), as well more intensive long-term services (rehabilitation, assisted living or nursing home care) at no extra cost and with no waiting period.

After Marjorie Rittenhouse, 77, of Painesville, Ohio, came home after foot surgery several years ago, “someone was there 24/7 for seven days,” she said. “It was all arranged — and I didn’t pay anything.”

At Kendal at Home, in Westlake, Ohio, (launched in 2004), where Ms. Rittenhouse belongs, members also get a thorough fitness assessment, a home assessment to identify changes needed to age in place safely (like grab bars in the bathroom and extra lighting) and a home maintenance assessment to figure out what work needs to be done on a house or an apartment (a new furnace? turn up the temperature in the fridge?), said Lynne Giacobbe, executive director.

Tiered plans with varying levels of benefits are common. The most expensive cover services 100 percent; others can require a co-payment of up to 30 percent for assisted living or nursing home care. Operators say that the most expensive plans are the most popular, because people want the extra protection. When long-term care is necessary, it’s typically provided in the assisted living or nursing home section of a continuing care retirement center with which the program is affiliated.

All programs require that members have health insurance, whether from a private employer or Medicare with supplemental coverage included. If someone has long-term care insurance, rates are discounted. Programs will arrange in-home meals, physical therapy or transportation to medical appointments, as medically required.

Most let members go to health clubs and social events at associated continuing care retirement centers without charge.

So what’s the catch, you’re thinking?

Here’s the most important one: To join, older people have to be healthy and functioning at a high level independently. If you’ve got any kind of serious chronic health condition, you probably won’t qualify. That’s the only way programs like this can work: by excluding people with immediate health needs, including any indicator of dementia, and doing everything possible to make sure that people stay healthy and at home as long as possible instead of needing institutional care.

“The screening process is much more stringent than for people who move to our campuses,” said Victor Amey, president and chief executive of Cadbury Senior Services, which operates two continuing care retirement centers, as well as the program that serves Ms. Mack in Haddon Township.

In checking around, I found one exception to this general rule. The Alexian Live at Home Program in Chattanooga, Tenn., which began in 2002, will take people with mild dementia or cognitive problems who are otherwise in good health for its “bronze” plan, which pays 70 percent of the cost of in-home services but excludes assisted living or nursing home care.

The very feature that makes these kinds of programs so attractive – relatively low entry fees and reasonable monthly fees – could become a problem if more members than expected become ill and need care, and available funds aren’t sufficient. So have a lawyer look over the contract carefully to see what rights you have if services are denied or withheld. I didn’t hear about this problem, but it’s a possibility worth your attention.

Why aren’t there more programs of this kind?

“The focus of the senior housing industry has been on bricks and mortar,” not community-based services, said Stephen Maag, director of residential communities for LeadingAge, an industry association. “But we’re now getting a recognition there is a significant market out there of people we haven’t been serving, and that represents an opportunity.”

In some states, laws that govern continuing care retirement centers didn’t allow for these kinds of services and had to be changed. Efforts are under way, or have already succeeded, in California, Connecticut, Florida, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Virginia, according to a paper on the centers that Mr. Maag prepared in February.

Would a “C.C.R.C. without walls” program appeal to you? Do you know of anyone who has had a negative experience in these programs? What concerns do you have, and what questions would you like answered?


World Alzheimer’s Day

We are wearing purple today to show our support.

September 21st is World Alzheimer’s Day. Learn more about Alzheimer’s disease and efforts to address the nation’s sixth leading cause of death.

Kingsley Kaminer, Cameron Kempson, Kristen Suttles

Facts about Alzheimer’s Disease

  • Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia among older adults. It involves parts of the brain that control thought, memory, and language and can seriously affect a person’s ability to carry out daily activities.
  • Although not a normal part of aging, the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease increases with age. Most individuals with Alzheimer’s disease are over the age of 65. However, people younger than age 65 also can develop Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Scientists do not know what causes Alzheimer’s disease, but it is believed that it is similar to other chronic conditions and develops as a result of multiple factors rather than a single cause.

Global Alzheimer’s Disease

  • According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 18 million people worldwide have Alzheimer’s disease. By 2025, this estimate is projected to grow to 34 million people, with the highest increase expected among developing countries.

Alzheimer’s Disease in the United States

  • It is currently estimated that approximately 2.6 million to 5.2 million Americans currently have Alzheimer’s disease, depending upon the approach used for identifying individuals with dementia.
  • If no cure is developed and present population trends continue, as many as 16 million individuals may have Alzheimer’s disease by the year 2050.
  • Alzheimer’s disease ranks as the 6th leading cause of death among adults aged 18 years and older, and is the 5th leading cause of death for adults aged 65 years and older.
  • For people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, the total payments for health care, long-term care, and hospice are projected to increase from $183 billion in 2011 to $1.1 trillion in 2050 (in 2011 U.S. dollars).

Current Efforts

A coordinated approach involving public and private partners is needed to address Alzheimer’s disease and its devastating effects on individuals, families, and the health care system. There are several new and existing activities currently underway. Some of these efforts are described below. Read More

A High-Tech Way To Age In Place

Home Monitoring Enhances Seniors’ Independence and Caregivers’ Peace of Mind.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 77 million boomers reside in the U.S. and by 2030, this demographic will represent an estimated 20 percent of the population. This means each day for the next 19 years, more than 10,000 baby boomers will turn 65. Studies show the vast majority of seniors wish to remain in their homes as they age, and about 85 percent of those “aging in place” will require some sort of in-home care from family, friends or home health services. Fortunately, numerous companies are working to make staying connected with seniors easier with a variety of home monitoring systems.

Several companies are investing signifi- cant research and development funds with the goal of creating affordable technology that will revolutionize how people age in their homes. Much of this new technology involves wireless devices that communicate with a main touch screen monitor. The com- ponents have been specifically designed with seniors in mind, with large text and simple navigation. Installation is in most cases no more complex than setting up a desktop computer. A half-hour training session with the dealer representative is usually sufficient, and maintenance is minimal.

Many of these systems come with health monitoring equipment like a weight scale, pulse oximeter, glucometer and blood pressure cuff. Each accessory is designed to work with the main unit to read and record health data, which can be stored for access by client-approved family and medical pro- fessionals through a web browser, or sent to contacts of the client’s choosing. Some systems also incorporate wireless sensors throughout the home to monitor move- ment, temperature and lighting.

What’s more, these systems often offer entertainment options and photo and video sharing functions, which not only allow families to monitor the health and well- being of their loved ones, but can also enrich their relationships.


The SimplyHome System is a sophisticated in-home monitoring system to track and manage various items and events within a home.Various discrete technologies from medication access tracking to a stove sensor work together to help notify family members and caregivers of potential issues based on choices and activities within the home. Additionally, every event that happens in the home is tracked on your own secure website. Using the reporting tools in the website, you can quickly identify changing behaviors or trends.

Finally, you can incorporate the EMT Call Center with the system to help respond to any need.The EMTs are available to respond to a missed medication access, an in-home emergency and every need in between. SimplyHome, 877-684-3581,

Click the Link Below to Read The Full Article


Charles Lea Center of Spartanburg SC is Utilizing Supportive Technology to Serve Individuals With Greater Independence, Better Outcomes and Increased Cost Effectiveness

With the use of SimplyHome technology, the Charles Lea Center of Spartanburg, South Carolina is able to serve disabled individuals who would otherwise be on ever-growing waiting list.

Asheville, NC (PRWEB) July 25, 2012

As Medicaid provider budgets become increasingly constrained, remote monitoring technology is emerging as a way to control costs and improve service outcomes. Supportive living environments can be managed by technology that detects potential problems such as falls, missed medications, cooking safety, and elopement.

The same support systems that allow staff to attend to individual concerns also enable consumers to live with greater choice and build skills of independent living. As funding sources realize cost savings through effective programs, they are able to serve individuals who would otherwise be on ever-growing waiting lists.

SimplyHome partner, The Charles Lea Center of Spartanburg, SC, recently celebrated the grand opening of its new Life Skills Center. An apartment within the training center is outfitted with SimplyHome technology.

“The partnership with SimplyHome has enabled people with disabilities to live as we do, independently,” says Jeff Ballenger, the Charles Lea Center Sr. Director of Residential Supports. The Life Skills Center is a hands-on training facility that prepares adults with special needs for residential and community independence.

“We believe this is just the beginning of a shift in how providers will utilize technology in their service models,” says Allen Ray, SimplyHome CEO. “The Charles Lea Center’s willingness to be the front runner for the use of our technology in a program setting has allowed them to serve more people with the funds that are available.”

The Charles Lea Center already partners with SimplyHome to provide technology in their residential support programs to enable independent living. The SimplyHome System placed in the Life Skills Center is an accurate replica of how technology is currently being utilized in their independent living program.

Read Full Article

Monitoring for More Than Senior Moments: Webinar By Jason Ray

Senior citizens make up the largest age group in the U.S., providing the backdrop for a huge RMR opportunity for health and safety monitoring, such as wandering, taking of medicine, medical conditions, and in-home accidents and care. This webinar, presented by SimplyHome’s VP of Business Development, Jason Ray, will illustrate the many real-life applications for the PERs market and the necessary steps for a successful offering.

SimplyHome Product Designer, Michael Doornbos, Featured in Wired For His Space Exploration Project

FireFly Controller Board Simplifies Rocket Science

Categories: Electronic GeekProjects and ActivitiesScience and Education,Toys and Technology

Recently, my friend Mike Doornbos from Evadot got together with the small-satellite crew down at the non-profit Kentucky Space to try to fix an annoying problem. (Yes, people really do get together to solve annoying problems with their satellites!) They wanted a standard “mission command” board that could serve as the basis for the brains, power and voice for different space applications without having to make it from scratch every time. They liked their solution so much, they decided to share!

“We’re making the FireFly controller boards because it seems like a lot of projects repeat the same ten steps just to get started. If you’re going to launch a high altitude balloon with a camera on it (to take pictures of the curvature of the earth), build some remote sensing equipment, teach a class, or even launch a satellite you need the same basic components,” says Mike Doornbos. “This system gets you right to ‘step 10′ in your project. Steps 1 through 9 are already done! The FireFly is designed to provide everything you need to get started including:

  • A small computer with an easy to use programming interface (emphasis on easy).
  • Battery power with charging circuits.
  • Long range communications.
  • The ability to use existing add on hardware.
  • Some software you can borrow, reuse, and share.
  • A place to talk about what your building to get help.”              

  Read MoreImage

AARP Features SimplyHome-How to Help an Aging Parent

How to Help an Aging Parent

Use this guide to assess when a loved one needs a caregiver and what options are available

by: Tina Adler | from: AARP The Magazine | June 13, 2012

How to Know When It’s Time

Sometimes an elder’s need for help is sudden and obvious. More often, though, it becomes apparent gradually, experts say. So how will you know? Watch for changes in your loved one’s behavior, such as ignoring favorite hobbies, missing dates with friends, or forgetting to pay bills. Not every change means danger, but when a shift happens, it’s important to understand why, says Claudia Fine, an executive at SeniorBridge, a geriatric-care management company. So snoop, Fine advises. Tag along to your loved one’s doctors’ appointments and ask questions.

See also: Does your loved one need a caregiver? Use this checklist.

Once you understand the person’s situation, you can help develop plans, says Peter Notarstefano, director of home- and community-based services at LeadingAge, an association for aging-services organizations. Although you may not see yourself as a “caregiver,” that’s the term for anyone who looks after a person who needs assistance with daily tasks. AARP’s Caregiving Resource Center can help.

Staying at Home

Keeping a loved one in his or her house, or yours, can be challenging if your loved one needs daily help with some tasks. Thankfully, there are services to make it easier.

Adult day facilities offer meals, activities, companionship and some medical care. One popular program for frail people is the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE). It’s free for those who qualify for Medicaid; others pay about $3,000 a month.

Service programs such as Senior Corps send volunteers age 55 or older to visit elderly individuals at home and provide companionship.

Occupational therapists can evaluate a home and its resident and recommend grab bars and other changes to improve safety. They also help clients develop strength and skills, such as balance, so they can manage more of their daily activities. Studies show that visits from an OT help older people stay in their homes longer.

If you and your family member want to live near each other but not in the same house, you can now rent a fully equipped, backyard mini-apartment that attaches to your home’s utilities. Some of these so-called assisted living structures come with monitoring systems.

Assistive-technology companies have products that can ensure your relative is safe. SimplyHome offers monitoring equipment such as motion sensors and GPS watches, and QuietCare ( has a motion-sensor system that can learn a person’s daily patterns and send alerts when there is a significant change.

In some areas nonprofit support networks called Villages help older residents stay in their homes. Volunteers perform some everyday tasks, and the Villages also arrange for discounted services, from plumbing to nursing care. Annual membership fees are usually $300 to $500. See whether there’s a Village near you.

Read Full Article


New Charles Lea Center Facility Helps Clients With Independent Living Skills

Published: Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 3:15 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, May 28, 2012 at 3:36 p.m.

Zane Garrick can’t wait until June.

Confined to a wheelchair with cerebral palsy, the 39-year-old will finally move into his first home.

Once there, he will be able to open and close doors, control the TV and lights, and cook by himself. He will live more independently than ever before.

“I’m excited,” Garrick said. “I want to be able to keep moving. I like being able to do things by myself.”

But before Garrick can make this big move, he has to acquire the skills needed to live on his own.

To do this, he is using a new 12,000-square-foot facility inside the Charles Lea Center.

With a simulated market, bank, restaurant, doctor’s and dentist’s office, apartment building and more, the Life Skills Center gives adults with special needs, like Garrick, hands-on experience with various real-life situations.

“They can practice things here and get good at them, so when they move into an apartment or home, they will already be familiar with everything,” said Dr. Jerry Bernard, executive director of the Charles Lea Center.

All of the environments were designed to look as real as possible. The lobby of the facility resembles an outdoor setting, with plant life and faux grass, streetlights and crosswalks. The bricks that seem to run up and down the walls are actually vinyl siding. A van is parked inside to let participants practice boarding and exiting a vehicle. It was donated by a local dealership.

The training rooms, including the grocery store, restaurant and bank, face the “outdoorsy” lobby area, which resembles a stretch of downtown businesses.

“We are trying to create a realistic idea of what downtown looks like,” Bernard said. “The whole idea here is to role-play a lot of things, like a simulation. The ones that work well are the ones that are realistic.”

The market area contains real groceries so the adults can practice shopping; the doctor’s office contains a waiting room, a dentist’s chair and a doctor’s chair. It’s designed to help people combat their fears and apprehension regarding going to the doctor or dentist.

Beside the restaurant, which resembles a Zaxby’s, an ATM machine is attached to the wall. While it doesn’t actually spit out money, “people can slide the card in and put in their number,” Bernard said. “Some of the things we do naturally, some of our folks need to be reminded.”

Those who use the facility can also get acquainted with some state-of-the-art technology by SimplyHome, a North Carolina-based company.

SimplyHome designs and installs wireless technology products geared toward the aging and disabled.

“This is where we are going,” said Jeff Ballenger, senior director of residential services. “We are taking this environment and mimicking it in some of our existing housing.”

The Charles Lea Center currently has about 370 people living in residential apartments and homes throughout the Upstate.

Seated in a wheelchair inside the apartment area at the Life Skills Center, Garrick controlled the doors, the TV, the lights, the front door and a bed simply by touching an iPad. With each touch of the screen, a large smile appeared on his face as objects in the room responded to his commands.

“This means a lot to me,” he said. “It makes me happy.”

When Garrick moves into his Cowpens home in June with three other buddies who also have special needs, the device will no longer be on an iPad; it will be permanently attached to his wheelchair.

A staff worker will live with them at all times to provide assistance if needed, but Bernard says the device will give the residents a lot more independence.

“If the staff person is in the kitchen making hamburgers or whatever and someone wants to change the TV, they can do it without having to wait for someone to do it for them,” he said.

Lois Durrah, director of Charles Lea Center’s day services, says the technology is also great for residents’ families.

“Families now have the reassurance that the person is not going to just be there and helpless — they are capable,” she said. “They can be out on their own and they’re happy and they’re safe and they are so much more independent.”

Garrick says the technology will also remind him when to take his medicine.

Transforming an area that was once occupied by conference rooms into the Life Skills Center took six months and cost about $70,000. The majority was paid for with grants, and the rest was funded by donations.

The original vision consisted of a restaurant, a food store and doctor’s office, but Michael Burnett, a Charles Lea Center employee who helped construct the facility, kept adding details.

The entrance hallway into the facility is covered wall to wall with sights of downtown Spartanburg. A local print-making company enlarged photographs and placed them on the walls.

“We are really excited,” Bernard said. “I think this is a great resource for our community, and it will really help more people move into more independent housing.”

Full ArticleImageImage

SimplyHome Receives Bronze Medal Edison Award for “Best New Product”

Edison Awards Honors SimplyHome for Innovation in Business with Bronze Medal 2012 Best New Product Award, Lifestyle and Social Impact Category, for The SimplyHome System™

Asheville, N.C. April 27, 2012

The SimplyHome System™ by SimplyHome, LLC was announced as a Bronze Medal winner for “Best New Product” at the 2012 Edison Awards Gala in New York City. The distinguished Edison Awards symbolize the persistence and excellence personified by Thomas Alva Edison, inspiring America’s drive to remain in the forefront of innovation, creativity and ingenuity in the global economy. The SimplyHome System™ is a winner in the “Lifestyle and Social Impact” category, one of fifteen categories honored by the Edison Awards.

The annual Edison Awards Gala was held in New York City Thursday, April 26th in the historic ballroom of New York’s famed Capitale.

“We are honored to receive an Edison Award,” said Allen Ray, CEO of SimplyHome. “I think the true innovation of the SimplyHome System™ technology is that it is people-centered and outcome driven. Making technology mean something – to impact individual lives –that’s the heart of what we strive to do.”

The SimplyHome System™ utilizes multiple sensors to log activities of daily living and proactively notify caregivers and loved ones of changes in behavioral patterns. Text, email or phone alerts can be generated by a single event, an intersection of multiple events or by inactivity.  Assigned family or caregivers may log in to their SimplyHome account to view activity and trends in daily living patterns.

Components like motion sensors, door and window contacts, and bed pressure pads address issues including falls, wandering, and sleep routines. The SimplyHome System™ can also monitor wellness priorities ranging from blood pressure and glucose levels, to weight and medication management.

“Our goal with the SimplyHome System is to address priorities like safety, affordability, and quality of life in support of independent living,” said Allen Ray, CEO of SimplyHome.

The Edison Awards are named after Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931) whose extraordinary new product development methods and innovative achievements garnered him 1,093 U.S. patents and made him a household name around the world.  The ballot of nominees for the Edison Best New Product Awards™ is judged by a panel of more than 3,000 individuals, including members of the Marketing Executives Networking Group (MENG), an organization comprising America’s top marketing professionals and academics. The panel also includes professionals from the fields of product development & design, engineering, science and education.

This year, the nominees were judged on a new set of evaluation criteria developed in partnership with Nielsen. These new criteria establish a new definition of innovation, leveraging the primary themes of Concept, Value, Impact and Delivery.

The 2012 Edison Awards are sponsored by Nielson, Discovery Communications, SCIENCE, USA TODAY, CSRware, and applepeak. For more information about the Edison Awards and a list of past winners, visit

About SimplyHome

SimplyHome designs and installs wireless technology products and related care-focused services. The company is committed to promoting affordable and dignified solutions for independent living – specifically to aging and disabled populations nationwide. SimplyHome is known for its highly-customizable systems that are tailored to meet each customer’s specific needs.

SimplyHome products and services range from voice-activated environmental controls (as shown recently on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition), Personal Emergency Response Systems, GPS watches, motion sensors, and stove monitors to Virtual Care Management® – SimplyHome’s model for client care.
For more information, visit: .

The SimplyHome System™ Named Edison Awards Best New Product Finalist

SimplyHome Will Be Honored for Innovative Technology That Empowers Independent Living. The Company’s SimplyHome System™ is Named a Best New Product Finalist in the Lifestyle and Social Impact Category by the 2012 Edison Awards.

Asheville, NC (PRWEB) April 20, 2012

SimplyHome, a leader in the Assistive Technology industry, announced that its SimplyHome System™ has been named a best new product finalist by the internationally renowned 2012 Edison Awards™. The SimplyHome System’s™ innovative technology is designed to increase independence, save money on care, and meet the individual needs of each customer. The SimplyHome System™ is a finalist in the Lifestyle and Social Impact Category.

“We are honored to be named an Edison Awards Finalist,” said Allen Ray, CEO of SimplyHome. “SimplyHome’s mission is to support independent living through the use of customized technology, and we expect this recognition will only further our efforts to enhance the lives of those we serve.”

The distinguished Edison Awards symbolize the persistence and excellence personified by Thomas Alva Edison, inspiring America’s drive to remain in the forefront of innovation, creativity and ingenuity in the global economy.

Winners of the Gold, Silver and Bronze awards will be announced April 26, 2012 at the Edison Awards Annual Gala, held in the historic ballroom of New York’s famed Capitale.

The 2012 Edison Awards are sponsored by Nielson, Discovery Communications, SCIENCE, USA TODAY, CSRware, and applepeak. For more information about the Edison Awards and a list of past winners, visit

About SimplyHome

SimplyHome designs and installs wireless technology products and related care-focused services. The company is committed to promoting affordable and dignified solutions for independent living – specifically to aging and disabled populations nationwide. SimplyHome is known for its highly-customizable systems that are tailored to meet each customer’s specific needs.

SimplyHome products and services range from voice-activated environmental controls (as shown recently on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition), Personal Emergency Response Systems, GPS watches, motion sensors, and stove monitors to Virtual Care Management® – SimplyHome’s model for client care.

For more information, visit:


Media Only Contact:
Katherine Branch
of SimplyHome


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