Product Review: Video Care | Family Communication Made Simple

Product Review: Video Care |family communication made easy

UPDATE- 09/25/2014- We received the sad news that Video Care has gone out of business.  We look forward to seeing future companies in this space.

Many of today’s seniors living at home don’t have a son or daughter next door.  The interaction with immediate family may be limited to phone calls, occasional visits, and holiday gatherings.  Video Care has developed a personal communication tool with a unique approach to solving the long-distance caregiver gap by combining complex technology with a simple, elder friendly interface.

Video Care brings face-to-face companionship and interaction to the elderly through a touch screen system that requires no mouse, keyboard or computer skills to operate.  A touch of the screen opens a two way video screen with a family member, caregiver or friend.

Video Care was kind enough to send me one of their systems to check out and see exactly how easy it would be for a senior with little or no computer skills.  I was very impressed with the simplicity of the unit and ease to set it up.  In addition to using two-way-video, loved ones can also share instant photos, videos and music.  Video Care also offers a nifty senior app if you want to share videos and photos directly from your smartphone.   The system can also be set up for medication, appointment, and activities of daily living reminders. Loved ones will be notified if the user does not respond to the reminders.

video care can be used to share photos

Video Care can be used to remind users to take their medication.

For professional caregivers, Video Care allows remote visits without the cost and time of driving to the home.  Clients can be checked on several times a day for a fraction of the cost of a typical home care visit.  Geriatric care managers could also use Video Care to check in with caregivers already in the home as a quality assurance tool, or as a problem solving option (in the case of any unusual behavior or symptoms).   Video Care is currently being used by in-home care agencies and geriatric care managers as a value-add to their current client base (I think this is a fantastic idea by the way).

I had the opportunity to speak with David Trescot, Co-Founder and CEO of Video Care.  One of my favorite stories he told me about Video Care users was about a daughter and her elderly mother who turn on Video Care every morning and use it as a “window” into each other’s homes.  They chat, have breakfast together, and go about their day with the two-way video all day long.  They’re able to participate in each other’s lives, and the daughter has peace of mind each morning when she sees her mother appear on the screen.

The other aspect I love about Video Care is that it can be used along the continuum of care for a loved one.  Video Care can operate from any location that has internet access (wireless works too).  I imagine the transition into assisted living or a skilled nursing facility could be greatly eased with daily check-ins and support from family and friends, even if they live on the other side of the world.

I look forward to following Video Care and others that will follow in the exploding telehealth and aging-in-place space.

Medication Management For Seniors

medication management for seniorsOne daily challenge that many caregivers face daily is medication management for seniors.  Medication Management for seniors falls to the caregiver for a variety of reasons:

  • The patient cannot physically open the containers that hold the meds.  In these circumstances, the caregiver needs to set out the meds for the patient to take at the appointed time;
  • There are more meds than the patient is capable of tracking, or the administering of them requires some help;
  • The most common issue is confusion or cognitive impairment, and this usually occurs when the patient is suffering from dementia or a variety of conditions, each of which requires separate medication.

Medication Management Tools For Caregivers

Here are some choices available to caregivers.  Check with your local pharmacy to find them.  They may also be available through your local senior center or senior resource office:

  • Pill boxes labeled by the day of the week.  They do need to be filled accurately at the beginning of the week, but after that, the pills are easy to find and take.
  • Blister Packs (also known as Bubble Pack) are a fairly new way of packaging medications for consumers, although elder care communities and hospitals have been using this method for some time.  The Packs are prepared by the pharmacy and each pack contains one day worth of pills, or pills to be taken at a certain time, such as breakfast or dinner.
  • Some Pill boxes come with alarms for people who need prompting and reminding to take their medications.  Some also come with a monitoring service that can alert the caregiver when medications have not been removed from the box.

In addition, there are visiting medication management services which can provide an aide or nurse to visit the patient’s home to assist with medications.  Some In-Home Care agencies will offer medication management as part of their services.  Check with your local Area Agency on Aging to find out what’s available in your area.

Blessings, Joanne

Tips On Medication Safety

One of the most pressing issues for part-time or long distance caregivers,  is medication safety.  How can you be certain that your loved one is taking her or his medications properly?  Here are some tips on medication safety.

Your first step is a brown bag autopsy.  This isn’t as grim as it sounds.  You put  everything your loved one is taking (prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, all vitamins and supplements) into a brown bag and take it to her or his primary physician or a licensed pharmacist for analysis.  You want to be sure that there will be no adverse reactions among the various items.

Once you’re confident that what she or he is taking is all going to work together beneficially, then you want to be sure that the pills are being taken at the right time and in the right amount.

One way to do this is to personally observe how your loved one takes her or his meds during the day and at night time.  Is she or he able to sort through the complexities without mishap?  If so, then you can relax about medication safety, for now.

However, if there’s any level of confusion about what’s to be taken when, then you may want to consider creating a chart to assist them.  On it you’ll need one more column than the number of medications and supplements.  That first column should be a time schedule that lists the time when each medication is to be taken.  Each successive column should have the name of the medication or supplement and its purpose.  Opposite the time in the first column that the med is to be taken, make a note about how it’s to be taken—with food, an hour before eating, etc.  Also list any warnings about causing drowsiness, nausea, etc.

If the chart is too confusing for your loved one, then you’ll need to implement a daily pill dispenser.  Each container in the dispenser is labeled with the time and instructions.  “Take the pill in this box at lunch time, etc.”  Pill dispensers can also be found that have automatic reminders and specific pill dispensing abilities.  In addition, these high-tech dispensers can also alert you if your love one has not taken their medication.

If a pill dispenser proves to be too confusing, then you’ll need to consider in-home care or professional medication management for your loved one so that someone is on hand when medications are taken to ensure that the right pill gets taken in the right amount at the right time.

One of the most common reasons that elderly people are hospitalized is adverse drug reactions from taking medications and supplements improperly.  Protect your loved ones from this emergency by assuring they are provided with the tools to take their medications safely.

Blessings, Joanne

What Is In Home Care?

What is In Home Care?  In Home Care is designed to support those who DON”T want (or need) to leave their homes, but DO require assistance with one or more of their daily activities. Care in the home can take on a variety of shapes and sizes and can incorporate family, friends, and professional assistance. I think most people, given a choice, would prefer to receive assistance from someone they know, family members, or friends.

There are certainly situations when family or friends providing care is not appropriate.  If professional support is to be hired, there are a few questions to ask the agencies you are interviewing.

Questions to ask the in home care agency:

  1. Most In-Home Care agencies have hourly minimums, usually 2-4 hrs. If a shift does not meet these minimums, the client may still have to pay for the full shift.
  2. Make sure the agency you are considering is licensed, and caregivers are bonded and insured.
  3. What kind of training and orientation do the staff participate in?
  4. Is there a nurse to oversee caregivers and provide training?
  5. What is the process if a caregiver is sick or does not show up for a shift?
  6. What are the fees? Do you pay less for longer shifts? Does the agency bill monthly or weekly? Do they provide transportation to doctor appointments, grocery store, etc…?
  7. Does the agency have access to other resources in the community should you need them?
  8. Check inspection results at
  9. Ask to see references and customer testimonials.

What is the advantage of hiring my own private caregiver?

  • It’s generally less expensive than working with an agency
  • A caregiver is your employee, they work for you.
  • You may be able to exchange care services for room and board, this works well for students

What is the advantage of hiring an agency?

  • An agency pays taxes, insurance, etc… No liability on your part, less risk
  • The shift will always be covered
  • Agencies are regulated and must pass inspections to operate

What type of Assistance can a caregiver provide?

  • Bathing/ Grooming
  • Light Cleaning
  • Shopping
  • Laundry
  • Meal Preparation
  • Toileting
  • Dressing
  • Mobility
  • Night care

How Much Does In-Home Care Cost?

I have seen quite a range for costs, anywhere from $12-$22 per hour, depending on geography and duties of the caregiver. If the caregiver is a CNA, the cost will typically increase due to training that the individual has received.  Who Pays for In-Home Care?

  • Private Pay (you)
  • Long Term Care Insurance- check your policy for restrictions and make sure agency is able to accept payment from Insurance provider
  • Some Health Insurances- check your policy
  • Medicaid- offers limited in-home care programs for those who qualify