The most capable support for telemedicine: the 50 million informal caregivers

San Andreas 18 July 2008The future of the United States economy will, to a large degree, depend on a good solution for the largest problem: the runaway cost of health care. Telemedicine would be of great help to solve this problem. The family and informal caregiver can become the one who takes and reports the vital signs of the care recipient, thus lower the cost of medicine.

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The caregiver can also monitor via the web the general condition and vitals of the care recipient. Even when the caregiver is not on location this can be accomplished by the Connect product of irobot.com allowing tele-conferencing so the care recipient would not feel alone.

An elegant statement from the family caregiver organization puts it just right: There are more than 50 million family caregivers in the USA and they provide 80 percent of the long term care services to the 100 million homebound people in need of care. These uncompensated services provided by the caregivers amount to more than 400 billion dollars annually.

The combination of the informal caregivers and their care recipients do amount to half of the population of the USA. And it is the same in the other 9 industrialized countries of the G-10 group of nations.

This very large group of caregivers and care recipients need local community support in the form of a Web Server, located in each community, providing Web 2.0 based collaborative services and applications. People would trust this service if it was offered by the local bank. This secure Web Server could also allow the caregivers to perform their regular jobs telework style from the home of the care recipient.

About the author

I have gained deep insight into the requirements of the people in need of caregiving and their caregivers when I worked for John Garamendi, now Lieutenant Governor of California, then State Senator.

I have many years of personal experience using AT and found it very helpful in SPMS - secondary progressive multiple sclerosis - conditions as described below in a brief review of my personal experiences.

In addition to my extensive experience with AT, I also have related graduate credentials from both California State University at Northridge - the center for AT corporate interactions - as well as CSU in Sacramento and UOP in Stockton.

To compensate for a total loss of motor skills due to Multiple Sclerosis (MS), I have focused on the development and performance of mental tasks. I write articles. I create books, I play Scrabble, all with the help of my caregiver hero husband Laszlo. We watch DVD movies and documentaries from Netflix, a great service indeed, and listen to magazines and books on tape provided by the Library of Congress, another worthwhile service to people with disability, delivered at no charge, then we discuss the content of these.

I am absolutely sure I am avoiding the onset of cognitive problems, dementia and Alzheimer's. I firmly believe that using my brain in activities requiring the mind will continue to keep me productive in spite of my severe physical disability. My husband even jokes that I am causing him to loose his memory because I remember all the phone numbers, all the names, all the activities in which we have participated, so he gives himself permission to forget such information.

My husband reminds me frequently that "no one is disabled when on the Internet, when one interacts via the Web". So I use him as my VoxBot - voice robot - and KeyBot - a keyboard robot - when I want something quick via the Web.

I am the luckiest person on the face of the earth, as Lou Gehrig so appropriately announced in his farewell speech, that I am surrounded by the support of my hero husband, my family and my friends and they all appreciate my mind and ignore my physical disability.


Janine M. Lodato

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