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​​Masonicare at Home: High-Tech and No-Tech Solutions to Keep Seniors Home Longer, Safer

By Adam Raider

According to a recent study by the National Institute on Aging, the number of Americans age 65 or older increased tenfold in the last century. Seniors are living longer and, for those who prefer to live in their home – instead of moving to a facility or in with relatives – there is a growing need for services to maintain their independence.Those services range from high-tech to no-tech.


Masonicare at Home came about in response to the demand for non-medical, in-home care. That includes in-home companion services ranging from a few hours a day to live-in arrangements, all of which help seniors like Ashlar Village resident Elaine Kennedy remain in their homes longer and more safely.


"Initially," recalled Elaine's daughter, Carol, "it started with my mother needing someone to come into the home three days a week for three hours a day. But then she suffered more health issues and we realized that she needed a 24/7, live-in companion. From the moment I picked up the phone and spoke to the person on the other end, I knew Masonicare at Home was going to be the right fit for us in terms of the quality of care they could give my mother, the amount of care, the timing of the care, and even the pricing. It really was a package that offered us one-stop shopping."


Gloria Agbodan, Elaine's Live-In Attendant, provides personal care, prepares Elaine's meals, performs light housekeeping, monitors Elaine's medication schedule, and accompanies Elaine on appointments, errands and walks around the Village.


"I enjoy helping people," Gloria said. "Any way that I can help people, I will gladly do it. Being a live-in is like taking care of my grandparents, which I really like. I don't see our clients as being somebody else's family, I see them as my own family. The most rewarding part of this job is to see the smile on someone's face – that smile of, 'I'm okay.'"

Elaine had been feeling lonely since losing her husband three years ago. But, her daughter says, having a live-in companion has really brightened her spirits.


"That's so fulfilling to know that she likes what I do for her," Gloria said, "and she enjoys having me around."


"There's no doubt in my mind," Carol said,"that I can leave my mother's apartment in the afternoon and know that she's going to be given the best care. As well as I could do it, Gloria has been doing it."


In 2013, Masonicare at Home expanded its scope of services by rolling out a program called Mobile Health Technologies.  These services include high-tech (but easy to use) emergency response systems and state-of-the-art medication reminders for seniors who live alone.


A relatively new addition to the Masonicare family, Cheryl Olson is Program Manager for Mobile Health Technologies. She's enjoying the opportunity to work with seniors and their families on providingtechnology that can provide peace of mind and save lives.


"In my previous job at another healthcare continuum," she said, "I was doing a lot of marketing and graphic design but also sales, which I loved. When they wanted me to work as a full-time graphic designer outside of senior care, it broke my heart because serving the senior population is truly my passion."


Olson now lends that passion to promoting Masonicare'spersonal emergency response system (PERS). For the senior who doesn't feel completely safe alone in their home, the PERS provides peace of mind via access to 24/7 emergency response. It featurestwo-way communication between the monitoring center and subscriber with a typical response time of under one minute once the button is pressed. Worn as a pendant or wristband, the PERS is waterproof ("You can even wear it in the shower," Olson notes) and can be worn around the clock. There is a basic PERS that has a push button and another model with sensors to automatically place a call if a fall is detected.

"That's been a very popular service," Olson said, "and one that quite a few people are utilizing."


The equipment communicates through a traditional landline, or can be purchased as a wireless device utilizing a cellular modem. In the near future, Masonicare expects to offer a PERS with GPS capability, allowing seniors to travel anywhere knowing that emergency response is available wherever they go.


Masonicare also offers MedMinder pill dispenserswhich remind subscribers to take their medications with a series of optional visual and/or auditory alerts. The automated dispensers haveseparate pill compartmentsthat flash.If that doesn't get the user's attention, the device will beep. Then the user will receive a phone reminder. If the user still has not taken their medications, then all caregivers listed will be notified via phone, email and/or text message.


"Everyone knows someone who could use one of these services," Olson said. "My goal is to make sure people know they're available through Masonicare."


"Our mission is to provide the most compassionate, carefully screened caregivers meeting the needs and requests of our clients," said Kimberly E. Magalhaes, Director of Masonicare at Home. "Offering technologies as well enables us to support continued independence among our clients so that they can remain safe at home for as long as possible."


For more information about services available through Masonicare at Home, call 203-679-5888.

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