Tech Company Reshaping Dementia Care for Home Care Agencies, Family Caregivers

People Power, a health care technology company, recently launched a new research project with the University of California, Berkeley. The goal of the project is to help caregivers provide better care for seniors with dementia.

To do so, the project grants caregivers access to a tool called Presence Caregiver, a motion-sensor caregiving system. While People Power often works with informal, family caregivers, many professional home care agencies — including TheraCare — are also using the company’s solutions.

In 2018, the National Institutes of Health awarded People Power and UC Berkeley’s Dr. Robert Levenson a $4.5 million grant to develop Presence Caregiver.

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Presence Caregiver works by using AI capabilities, cloud services and home sensors to track the patterns and daily activities of seniors in their homes. Kits include five motion sensors, three entry sensors, a wireless touch button, a water-leak sensor, night lights, watches, an Amazon Echo dot and other gear. The kits are worth roughly $1,000 each.

Once motion sensor data is gathered, caregivers can receive alerts when anything out of the ordinary or dangerous occurs. The system is also set up to send alerts to an emergency call center.

“We send mobile alerts if something appears to be wrong,” Gene Wang, CEO, and co-founder of People Power, told Home Health Care News. “If someone wanders away from home, if someone has fallen and can’t get up, we track the occupant’s location., We can tell if the front door is open, which room the occupant visits in the home. We track when the medicine cabinet is accessed, and we also measure sleep patterns and quality of sleep.”

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People Power’s goal with Presence Caregiver is twofold: improve safety and care conditions for seniors living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, as well as to aide caregivers by reducing stress, anxiety and isolation, according to Wang.

“Caregivers that are taking care of people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias often put the weight of the world on their shoulders,” Wang said. “They become lonely and isolated, which leads to depression. We are actively building a system that both [flags] serious problems, as well as works to help caregivers stay healthy.”

Currently, Presence Caregiver is in about 80 homes.

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People Power’s Presence Caregiver research project is another example of broader efforts to address the needs of family caregivers.

Overall, one in five American adults assists an older family member in some form, according to RBC Wealth Management, a division of RBC Capital Markets LLC.

Aside from family caregivers, People Power has also partnered with a number of in-home care providers, such as Irvine, California-based AHI Group Inc. and TheraCare.

TheraCare was an early Presence Caregiver adopter, implementing the system to manage its 24-hour care clients.

“It’s allowed us to have oversight when a caregiver isn’t in the home,” Greg McCarthy, founder and CEO of TheraCare, told HHCN. “The ability to gather trends and collect data through this research is excellent. A lot of people have tried to push technology in the space, but that doesn’t always mean it’s the best solution for the home.”

Redwood City, California-based TheraCare is a home care provider whose service lines include, companion care, respite care and personal care.

Since implementing Presence Caregiver, TheraCare has generally been able to improve outcomes because of its ability to track trends, McCarthy said.

“Maybe mom went from getting up once a night to four times a night. Now, we are able to see this and determine if something is going on medically,” he said. “The whole goal is to be proactive versus reactive when it comes to care.”

For now, Power People’s Presence Caregiver is part of a research project with UC Berkeley, but the company has future plans to provide the service on a for-profit.

Nationally, more than 5 million people are living with Alzheimer’s — a number that is estimated to grow by roughly 14 million by 2025. Almost half of all informal caregivers are aiding older adults with dementia, according to statistics from the Alzheimer’s Association.

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