Flu Advice for Seniors

 Seniors among Groups Hardest Hit by Flu

          For most people, getting the flu means feeling achy and feverish for a week or so, but for people 65 years and older, the flu can be much more serious. People in this age group are at high risk for severe flu illness and complications. In fact, an estimated 60 percent of flu-related hospitalizations in the United States occur in this age group each year. Last season flu illness was particularly severe for people 65 and older, prompting CDC to report the highest flu-related hospitalization rates in this age group since it began tracking this information during the 2005-2006 flu season.

          Unfortunately, the burden of flu illness in people 65 and older was accompanied by reports that the flu vaccine did not work as well as expected to protect people in this age group against one particular flu virus last season. If that news left you asking yourself whether getting a flu vaccine this season is still worthwhile for people 65 and older, the answer is absolutely and unquestionably, “Yes!”

          There are plenty of reasons for people 65 and older to get a flu vaccination this year, and vaccination remains the first, best and most important step in protecting against flu illness and its complications.

          While the benefits of flu vaccination can vary – and this is particularly true in people 65 and older – studies show that vaccination can provide a range of benefits, including reducing flu illness, antibiotic use, doctor’s visits, lost work, and even helping to prevent hospitalizations and deaths.

          In fact, a recent study by CDC and Vanderbilt University experts found that flu vaccination reduced the risk of flu-related hospitalization by nearly 77 percent in study participants 50 years of age and older during the 2011-2012 flu season.*

          Other studies have found that flu vaccination reduces the risk of death in older adults. For people with certain underlying heart conditions, several studies indicate that flu vaccination can reduce the risk of a heart attack. Overall, there is significant evidence to support the benefits of vaccination in people 65 and older.

          If you are in this age group, there are two flu vaccine options available to choose from this season: the standard flu shot and a high-dose flu shot made and approved specifically for people 65 years of age and older.

          The high-dose vaccine contains more antigen (the part of the vaccine that helps your body build up protection against flu viruses) than the regular flu shot, and this extra antigen is intended to produce a stronger immune response in seniors. CDC does not have a preference for which vaccine seniors should get this season. “Either the regular flu shot or the high-dose vaccine are perfectly acceptable options for people 65 and older this season,” said Dr. Alicia Fry with CDC’s Influenza Division. “The important thing is to get vaccinated because it’s still the best protection currently available against the flu.”

          Flu vaccine is offered in many locations. Use the vaccine finder at http://vaccine.healthmap.org/ to find a flu vaccination clinic near you. Medicare covers both flu and pneumonia vaccines with no co-pay or deductible. As part of the Affordable Care Act, all plans in the Health Insurance Marketplace and other plans will provide many free preventive services, including flu vaccinations. For information about the Health Insurance Marketplace, visit www.HealthCare.gov. Health Insurance Marketplace open enrollment starts October 1, 2013, and ends March 31, 2014. Coverage can begin as soon as January 1, 2014. For more information about influenza or vaccination, visit http://www.cdc.gov/flu, or call 1-800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636).

* Talbot HK, Zhu Y, Chen Q, et al. Effectiveness of influenza vaccine for preventing laboratory-confirmed influenza hospitalizations in adults, 2011-2012 influenza season. Clin Infect Dis. 2013; doi: 10.1093/cid/cit124.

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Senior Health Information for Caregivers

A person may find themselves in the position of being a caregiver when they least expect it.
A spouse or the children of an older adult may become their caregiver in an instant if their parent or loved one falls or has a medical-related incident. The person in their new caregiver role may have a brand-new set of responsibilities and be faced with issues they never heard of or were not prepared for.

Being a caregiver may not be the issue as much as knowing how to be a caregiver.

Taking care of another person may be intimidating for someone who had no idea they’d ever be in that position. Older adults may develop illnesses, physical limitations, medical conditions or even suffer side effects from dangerous medications or medical devices that the caregiver had no prior knowledge of.

Two common conditions that caregivers of seniors may face are Alzheimer’s disease and incontinence.

 

Alzheimer’s Drugs Require Close MonitoringSenior Health

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia and often occurs in seniors.

It affects memory, language and the part of the brain that controls thought. It’s estimated that more than 5 million Americans suffer from the disease.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 5 percent of Americans ages 65 to 74 have Alzheimer’s. The population with Alzheimer’s could reach 16 million by 2050.

Caregiving for a person with Alzheimer’s can be emotionally taxing, require a lot of patience, and be expensive. There are medications available for Alzheimer’s patients, but the jury is out on their effectiveness.

Unfortunately, the drugs also have side effects that may include dizziness, drowsiness and fainting – conditions that may increase the risk of falls. If more than one of these drugs is prescribed, side effects could be worse.

Caregivers should closely monitor people with Alzheimer’s disease and report symptoms or side effects to doctors.

 

Incontinence Issues May Catch Caregivers Off Guard

Aging adults may also suffer from incontinence, which is the involuntary loss of urine. Incontinence can occur in seniors who suffered a stroke, developed dementia or experienced other changes associated with aging.

Women experience urinary incontinence twice as often as men, due to the effects of pregnancy, childbirth and menopause.

Urinary incontinence can be a minor annoyance (losing small amounts of urine while sneezing, laughing or coughing) or become debilitating if people stay inside to avoid embarrassment.

It is important for caregivers to know that many types of incontinence are treatable. Also, there are ways to ease the stress of the condition:

  •  Don’t embarrass or criticize a person who has an accident.
  • Be supportive, patient and put yourself in the shoes of the person suffering from it.
  • Help the person manage their consumption of liquids.
  • Remind and encourage them to use the bathroom regularly.

Incontinence can be treated in a variety of ways. It may start with behavior modification. Women can do exercises to strengthen bladder muscles. Medical options are available too.
There are also medications for overactive bladders, medical devices and surgical procedures that may be good options. People faced with incontinence issues should discuss their options with a doctor.

Caregivers should be aware, however, that some treatments can lead to additional complications.

 

Mesh Treatments for Incontinence Linked to Injuries, Subject of Lawsuits

A common solution for female patients with incontinence is a bladder sling. During this surgery, a narrow strip of synthetic mesh is inserted to relieve pressure on the bladder. Unfortunately, when the mesh is implanted through the vagina, there can be serious complications.

Before choosing procedures involving vaginal mesh, patients and caregivers should be aware of the dangers associated with using the device.

Complications can include tissue erosion, nerve damage, infection and internal organ damage. These injuries often require revision surgeries.

More than 30,000 women in the United States filed lawsuits after being injured by transvaginal mesh devices, including bladder slings.

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Knowing about medical issues that occur to seniors can help a caregiver do a few things: understand and manage the issue, figure out treatment options and identify possible complications and side effects that come as a result.

Caregiving comes with challenges and times of stress, but knowing what to do when situations occur may ease the intimidation that may come with the newfound set of responsibilities.

 

Julian Hills is a staff writer for Drugwatch.com. He has a background in newspaper and television journalism. He studied Communication and English at Florida State University.

 

Sources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Alzheimer’s Disease. [Fact sheet]. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/aging/aginginfo/alzheimers.htm

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.) Caregiving for Alzheimer’s Disease or other Dementia. [Fact sheet]. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/aging/caregiving/index.htm

National Institute on Aging. (n.d.). Alzheimer’s Disease Medications Fact Sheet [Fact sheet]. Retrieved from http://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/publication/alzheimers-disease-medications-fact-sheet

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Urinary Incontinence in Women. [Fact sheet]. Retrieved from http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/uiwomen/

U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. (n.d.). Urinary Incontinence In Women [Abstract]. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1273322/

Alzheimer’s Association. (n.d.). Incontinence. Retrieved from https://www.alz.org/care/alzheimers-dementia-incontinence.asp

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Independent Living vs. Assisted Living.
Which is right for my loved one?

As our parents or elderly loved ones age, they have numerous options when looking for the perfect place to spend their golden years. Of course, many remain in their homes. Some are looking for an easier way of life, free from the daily chores that homeownership requires, while others seek out the company of people their own age, with opportunities for socializing and daily activities. Still others require assistance with daily living, such as managing medications, dressing and bathing.

If your loved one can still do everything for themselves and would like to live among peers and enjoy scheduled activities, independent living communities – also called retirement living – are an excellent option. They offer a safe, secure and social environment for active, independent seniors.

Seniors in independent housing may live in an apartment, a small home, or a cottage. These communities usually have on-site staff members that provide a small amount of supervision and offer a “maintenance-free” living option, often providing housekeeping, laundry and dining services.

Independent living is perfect for people who:
• Want to maintain their independence.
• Want to rid themselves of the burden of cooking, cleaning and maintaining a home.
• Want more social interaction than living at home.
• Like the security of being around other people and getting some supervision from the staff.

If your loved one is still able to move about freely and is seeking a certain amount of independence, but needs help with some daily activities such as bathing, preparing meals, taking medication, or dressing themselves, an assisted living community may make sense. Residents of an assisted living community live in their own apartment and are able to come and go as they please, while receiving assistance as needed. They can dine with others in a dining room or make their own meals. Quality senior care living communities offer a variety of daily activities to choose from. At an assisted living community, your loved one will still have independence while getting the care and services they need to lead a fulfilling life.

An assisted living facility may also be able to help if your loved one still has certain cognitive abilities, but is beginning to show signs of dementia that could result in isolation, frustration, or forgetting critical tasks such as taking medication. Communities that have “memory care neighborhoods” have caregivers who receive specialized training in memory care along with added security measures to manage residents’ safety. Memory care programs can also include brain fitness exercises, memory-building practices, and specialized therapy for residents living with dementia. If a resident begins to show signs of greater physical needs, the staff will begin to talk to the family about making the transition to a skilled nursing community.

In general, assisted living communities:
• Can provide direct assistance with everyday tasks, like bathing, dressing and meals.
• Have trained staff available and monitoring 24 hours a day.
• Help residents maintain their dignity while aging.
• May have specialized units for residents with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
• Can help with transportation to doctor appointments.
• Often have busy activity calendars to keep residents engaged with other residents.

If you want to ensure your loved one can stay in the same community as their needs change, look into a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC). CCRCs allow people to remain in the same familiar and comforting environment even if their care needs change. If you’re looking for one community that you can call home even as your health changes, consider a CCRC.

About the Author:
David has over 20 years’ experience as a writer and editor. Senior issues have long been his passion, and in addition to past experience writing about maintaining a healthy outlook throughout every phase of life, he has volunteered his time and skills to such organizations as Senior Services of King County in Seattle. He is one of the many expert authors who is currently writing on behalf of Emeritus assisted living communities.

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Safety Products for Home Care to Prevent Injuries

I have been deeply involved with the elder care market in the past few years. After my grandmother fell down and broke her hip, we began looking at some very helpful products and ways to prevent these serious falls. During this time, I also began helping out at the local Family Bridges home care office in Cincinnati, Ohio so this made me become aware of the issues that our senior citizens have. Below are some of the much needed products that I think elders should have when living at home.

Roll Around Walker- There are many different types of walkers, but if your elder has a lot of trouble moving around the house, these make things much easier because they have 4 wheels. Plus it has a basket which my grandmother regularly uses to store items such as her purse and cordless phone in case she need to contact someone conveniently.
Uplifting Seats- This is something that we haven’t needed yet for our elder, but every few months she seems to be having a little more trouble than before. Currently we are looking at giving her either a chair or seat type lift. They can be helpful to prevent falls from the struggle they have with getting of the couch.
Cushioned Bath Mats- We have been recommending non-slip type bath mats for a while, but these really caught my eye. Not only do these prevent slip & falls from happening, they also are padded so that if an elder does fall, the mat will absorb most of the impact.
• Rails & Gripping Handles- Elder Depot carries a few types of safety handles such as this handhold suction grip. These are great anywhere. A quick tip: be sure to observe where in the house the elder is showing any sign of struggle. Places to look for are areas with steps, bathrooms, and doorways.

Those are just some of the items that I think will be helpful to prevent serious accidents. Investing in a few of these items is worth preventing injuries that I have seen cost family 10’s of thousands of dollars. Plus you have the pain associated with that.

There are many other helpful items and it depends on the person’s needs so feel free leave a comment below to recommend a suggestion that you think should be added.

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Was I wrong about Caregiver Robots?

Last July, I closed a blog post on how Family Caregiving is often like a Second Full Time Job with a comment that began with “Caregiver robots are still at least a decade away…” This week GeckoSystems followed Elder Depot on Twitter and let us know that the Carebot™ is a lot further along than I had imagined.

The Future looks Rosie?

Many of us remember Rosie the Robot, the mechanical maid from Hanna-Barbera’s animated sitcom The Jetsons, but how many of us would have guessed that we might just have housekeeping Robots in our lifetimes?

The Carebot™ has a long way to do before it can do the dishes, prepare dinner, or vacuum the floor…but it has passed some major milestones. It can now safely navigate through the chaotic clutter of a real home, hold basic conversions with humans, and keep track of a Senior as they move around the home. These are tremendous breakthroughs that are taking home robotics out of the future and into the now. There’s still a lot of work to be done but the Carebot™ is at the stage where it can provide some valuable Eldercare services…even if it can’t clean up the house just yet.

From the GeckoSystems Website…

Cost Effective Monitoring

Elderly people in nursing homes receive attention from nurses nine minutes per day on average. These places are expensive ($45,000 to $60,000 per year) and not always easy or convenient for family members to physically visit. There is a crisis for cost effective assistance. Concern for their parents is one of the main reasons for adult children to purchase an elder care enabled CareBot™ MSR. It will monitor the care receiver constantly, and it is only a one-time cost that eventually pays for itself.

Virtual Visits

Working parents of all ages seek assistance in caring for their children as a result of working long hours, and having to commute to and from their workplace. The ability to virtually visit their children from work, during travel, or anywhere they have Internet access is now possible. Working mothers and fathers can watch their children routinely in a window on their computer monitors while at work.

Automatic Reminders

The CareBot™ MSR reminds the care receiver to take medication, reminds them that family is coming over soon (or not at all), and it can alert them when there are unexpected visitors, or if intruders are present. It will also keep track of doctor’s visits.

Companionship

The CareBot™ MSR is a new kind of companion that always stays close to the care receiver, enabling family and friends to care for them from afar. It will hold various levels of conversation with the care receiver. The personality, voice, and phrases can be customized.

Automatic Emergency Notification

The CareBot™ MSR notifies designated caregivers when a potentially harmful event has occurred, such as a fall, fire in the home, or the person has simply not been found by the CareBot™ for too long. It responds to calls for help. It can call 911 or, before resorting to 911, work its way through a list of designated emergency contacts.

It’s still going to be awhile before Elder Depot starts stocking CareBots™ but this exciting new Eldercare technology is advancing quickly and should hopefully soon be helping Caregivers/Seniors to live better.

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An ounce of prevention is worth…

The Center on Disease Control just released a disturbing report highlighting that many older adults are not receiving critical preventive care that could help them stay healthy. Entitled Closing the Gap: Enhancing Use of Clinical Preventive Services Among Older Adults, the report outlines and encourages the use of preventive services that might even save a Senior’s life and raises awareness of services that are currently underused by the 65+ population.

In order of importance, the report advises that Caregivers and Seniors immediately begin making use of the following services in order to promote healthier living and longer life expectancy.

Flu vaccinations, Pneumonia vaccinations, Breast cancer screenings, Colorectal cancer screenings, Diabetes screening, Lipid disorder screening, Osteoporosis screening, Smoking cessation counseling, Alcohol misuse screenings and counseling, Aspirin use, Blood pressure screenings, Cervical cancer screenings, Depression screenings and counseling, Obesity screenings and counseling, and Shingles vaccinations.

You can download the report here.

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The Power of a Valentine

Research conducted over the course of two decades by the Swedish Karolinska Institute found that married aging adults were half as likely to develop dementia as their single counterparts. The scientists behind the research believe that the intense social interaction of living with another person may be the reason behind this resistance. The research was based on a study of almost 1,500 people over the course of 21 years.

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How to get a GSM phone to work?

Insert Sim card into Cell PhoneTo get an unlocked GSM phone working, all you need to do is insert the carrier’s SIM card into the phone.

Unlocked GSM Cellular Phones can be used with any Global System for Mobile Communications compatible carrier. In the United States, AT&T and T-Mobile are major GSM compatible carriers. Throughout Europe and most of Asia, all of the major carriers are GSM compatible.

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You’re in Good Company ~ Famous Caregivers

Maria Shriver helped cared for her father, who suffered from Alzheimer’s, and has become a champion of Alzheimer’s Caregivers. Her journalism career began with KYW-TV in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but she soon moved up to the National News and later gained a different sort of fame when she married Arnold Schwarzenegger. The former First Lady of California has been a lifelong advocate for people with intellectual disabilities and recently co-authored an Alzheimer’s study with the Alzheimer’s Association.

Princess Yasmin Aga Khan cared for her mother, Rita Hayworth, who was suffering from dementia. Yasmin is internationally recognized for her advocacy work promoting awareness of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Steve Slater cared for his father, who suffered from Lou Gehrig’s disease, until his death. In 2010, while caring for his mother who suffers from Lung Cancer, Steve achieved national notoriety for quitting his job as a JetBlue Flight Attendant in spectacular fashion.

Susan Boyle was the primary caregiver for her elderly mother until she passed away at the age of 91. In 2009, two years after her mother passed away, Susan appeared on Britain’s Got Talent and gave a performance of “I Dreamed a Dream” that made her an International Sensation overnight.

Rosalynn Carter helped care for her father when he was diagnosed with terminal leukemia and has since cared for several family members, including her late mother who died in 2000 at the age of 94. The former First Lady of the United States has even authored a book on Caregiving entitled, Helping Yourself Help Others – A Book for Caregivers.

Can you think of Famous Caregivers that we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments and we’ll add them to the list.

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Homecare Agencies: Management and Scheduling Troubles?

In the past, I’ve told you about software like KeePass , the Oprea Browser, and Skype; software that offers some useful benefits for Seniors and their Caregivers. Today, I thought I’d mention a piece of software that I’ve been hearing goods things about that’s geared towards professional Homecare Agencies .

First, two quick disclaimers: 1) Elder Depot wasn’t put up to this, the only reason we’re promoting this software is that we’ve been hearing good things about it and because it strikes us as pretty useful. 2) As a supplier of Eldercare Products, Elder Depot does business with a lot of Homecare Agencies but we’re not a Homecare Agency and we haven’t actually used this software. So, Caveat Emptor.

Running any business can be a complicated headache at times, that’s all the more true for Home Care Agencies that face challenges like strict legal requirements, a need for accurate scheduling, and the difficulty of managing staff at a distance. My wife works at an Adult Day Program that tackles many of these problems by juggling several computer programs, mapping and remapping the weekly schedule on a giant dry-erase board, and making heavy use of cellphones. That kind of solution works… It even works well. But there’s something appealing about what is by most accounts an intuitive, easy-to-use, and integrated software package that does the same and more.

HomeTrak is a piece of software designed specifically to meet the management, scheduling, and legal needs of Home Care Agencies.

http://www.hometrak.com/

Judging from their website, the four words that guide HomeTrek’s design are Schedule, Manage, Serve, & Grow. At it core, the software is designed to get jobs scheduled, that sounds simple but it can be complicated. HomeTrak simplifies the process by providing detail and up-to-date information on clients and caregivers, while keeping track of referrers.

I thought the emphasis on integrated referral management was pretty insightful. The HomeTrak website breaks that down into the following benefits.

  • Keep track of anyone or any business that is sending clients and caregivers to your organization.
  • How many new referrals did you receive yesterday?
  • How many new clients did you receive yesterday?
  • How long is it taking to turn potential clients into active clients?
  • Information from the referral module can be used to make educated marketing decisions.

HomeTrak offers the following benefits in regards to clients. I thought it was particularly useful that it tracks changes to a client’s records – what an improvement over paper files, where you’d have to do detective work to track down who to ask about a change.

  • Tracks required dates specific to each client.
  • Allows for a permanent schedule and visit plan.
  • Records all the skills required to accommodate a client’s needs.
  • Connects external documents to each client for easy reference.
  • Tracks changes made to a client’s records, including information changed, who changed the information, and when it was changed.
  • Imports and exports demographic information with other contact management and accounting software.
  • Manages referral sources and contacts through the Referral Management System.

Staff Management is pretty straightforward but with enough detail. I like how it integrates skill-sets that it can then compare to Client needs.

  • Stores caregiver photographs.
  • Multiple options available for pay rates.
  • Connects external documents to each caregiver for easy reference.
  • Allows viewing of all clients that the caregiver is currently assigned to visit.
  • Allows viewing of all changes made to a caregiver’s record, including information changed, who changed the information, and when it was changed.
  • Allows creation of user-defined skills, user-defined locations and user-defined compliance data.

Scheduling. That’s what caught my interest when I first heard of HomeTrak. There are so many features here that I thought were so useful. In particular, I like the automation that saves management staff so much legwork and how the software keeps Client family members in the loop.

  • Automatic alerts to open schedules and caregiver overlaps.
  • Suggests caregivers best suited to care for clients based on user defined parameters.
  • Only matches available caregivers that meet the client’s request.
  • Client and caregiver information is visible side-by-side for a better match.
  • Eliminates double scheduling of shifts.
  • Notifies scheduler when a caregiver might go into overtime.
  • Invoicing and payroll are based on a confirmed schedule, thus eliminating errors in client billings and caregiver pay.
  • Single entry of duplicated data eliminates human errors.
  • Information is archived for later retrieval as needed.
  • Saves time and money by e-mailing schedules and other pertinent information directly from the schedule module to caregivers, clients and their families.
  • Provides integrated directions to client homes using an interface to Google Maps, an extraordinary new concept that allows viewing of maps to the client’s home and viewing driving routes between schedules.

As if all of that weren’t enough, HomeTrak also manages finances including Payroll and Billing.

  • Calculates payroll for any time period.
  • Calculates payroll for all caregiver groups or a single group.
  • Make minor adjustments to calculated payroll.
  • Easily creates payroll reports for both active and posted payroll periods.
  • Exports payroll to QuickBooks timecards.
  • Moves payroll information to the sales history system, so you can view profit and loss by type of work performed, clients visited, or payers.
  • Calculates billing for any time period.
  • Calculates billing for all client groups or a single group.
  • Produces an invoice that can include your company logo, and/or a tear-off remittance section.
  • Creates billing reports for both active and posted billing periods.
  • Sends invoices to QuickBooks accounting after created.
  • Capable of billing for holidays by individual client.
  • Allows correction of posted billing.
  • Easily creates invoices between normal runs for estate payment.
  • Capable of billing for mileage, errand mileage and expenses.

Quick and easy-to-generate reports have become an industry standard… But it’s nice to see them here.

  • Easily generate, display and print reports.
  • Choose the report or options that you want.
  • Quickly find the information that you need.
  • Create professional looking caregiver name badges.
  • Simple to generate mailing labels or envelopes for clients, payers or caregivers.

Management by…Telephony? I thought this was amazing and it saves management so many hassles.

  • Eliminate paper time sheets for good!
  • Client is no longer required to sign timesheets thereby avoiding potential conflicts
  • Significantly streamline payroll and invoicing
  • No additional phone lines or hardware required
  • Disciplines caregivers to show up on time and work for the authorized period
  • Provides management with a unique and powerful caregiver management tool

So… Maybe now you understand why I was impressed? I’m not alone, it seems like more and more Home Care agencies are switching over. I can’t say if HomeTrak is as good as it’s features or reputation make it out to be…but I think it’s one of the best examples of modern information technology put to a practical use that I’ve seen in a long time.

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