by Leslie Farin
Necessity is the Mother of Invention
A man with a family and a high-pressure job realizes his mother needs help. She lives alone, out of state, and can no longer live independently. Understandably, she wants to stay in her home which is familiar and comfortable. The son helps his mom remotely as best he can, coordinating her care from afar and visiting as often as possible. This situation is difficult, as many of us in the 50+ age group know. An abundance of anxiety, guilt, and exhaustion frequently accompanies the role of the family caregiver.
Let’s Make Old Age Better
The man in this story is Shaun Mitra, CEO of BrioCare. For many years after his mother passed, the challenges of his experience stayed with him. He became passionate about finding a way to help others who care for elderly family members.
During this time, Shaun read the New York Times bestselling book, BEING MORTAL by Atul Gawande. The personal stories detailed on the pages give a dignified voice to older people losing their independence.
The book, which Shaun said completely changed his perspective on aging, talks about the need to find a way to “make old age better” and more effectively support caregivers.
Armed with a new attitude about aging after reading BEING MORTAL, Shaun set out on a mission to create an innovative product to help make life better for both older adults and those that care for them.
Technology for Family Caregivers and Elderly Living Alone
A few years went by. Shaun, an engineer with an MBA who specializes in IT (information technology), became fascinated with voice technology. More accurately, he was obsessed.
He decided to create an easy-to-use app that works with any Amazon Echo device using voice AI (artificial intelligence) to engage elderly loved ones. The voice AI calls the user by name and learns their preferences, expanding knowledge over time for a truly customized experience.
The many features include morning check-ins, reminders, entertainment, and everything in between. You can personalize the experience with proactive nudges and reminders in your own voice for your loved one when you can’t be there in person.
Not everyone needs or wants every feature; you pick and choose which ones work best for your individual situation. Getting started is simple – all you need to do is say, “Alexa, start BrioCare”, and you’re good to go.
Care, Companionship and Connection
This customized care support is invaluable for older adults who value their independence but need a little assistance keeping track of everything. It allows them to comfortably age in place, and also helps decrease the loneliness and isolation they may experience in this phase of life. It’s well known that feeling lonely and isolated can significantly increase an older adult’s risk of dementia, depression, anxiety, heart disease, and other serious health issues.
At the same time, the BrioCare app provides peace of mind for the family caregiver. Taking care of an older adult is incredibly stressful, no matter what someone tells you when you ask how they are doing. The standard answer is usually something like, “Everything is fine” or “All is good”, but you know it’s not.
Some people don’t like to ask for help and/or are uncomfortable accepting it, but the reality is we all need help sometimes. Did you know the mortality rate is 63% higher for caregivers than for others the same age? BrioCare is an inexpensive and user-friendly option that helps alleviate caregiver guilt and anxiety.
It’s not meant to replace human interaction but can serve as “the next best thing” when needed to provide care, companionship, and connection for your loved one.
What We Love About the Briocare App
- Easy to set up – ready in 15 minutes.
- User-friendly and intuitive interface.
- All in one solution – all features bundled together eliminating the need for an app for each specific function.
- Offers six dimensions of wellness (emotional, occupational, physical, social, intellectual, spiritual)
- Includes video chat and photo sharing.
- Encourages communication between family members.
- Daily report feature
- Medication reminders
- Easy-to-use templates based on specific health issues to get you started.
- Nothing to wear.
- No special hardware needed.
- Free 3-month trial
- Only $15/month after the trial period.
- No contracts.
- The best part – just say “Alexa, start BrioCare” to access the platform – and that’s it!
(NOTE: BrioCare works with any Amazon Echo device, but we recommend the Echo Show)
What We Don’t Like
Honestly, there are a few negatives. We only noticed two issues when testing the product.
- As is the case with any new technology, a few minor bugs in the system need fixing. For example, some conversation words need adjusting. Updates to improve the user experience are happening all the time.
- We found the trivia questions/answers went too fast. When I mentioned this issue to Shaun, he explained the fix was an easy one; simply say, “Alexa, slow down”. I tried it and it worked – problem solved!
The Bottom Line
While we can’t eliminate all the suffering our loved one’s face, we can focus on helping them live the best life possible for as long as they can. Equally important is that caregivers need to take care of themselves too, but often don’t. Self-care is not selfish; a caregiver can’t effectively care for others if not as healthy, emotionally and physically, as possible. As the saying goes, “You can’t pour from an empty cup”.
The BrioCare platform was clearly designed by someone with personal experience as a family caregiver. Shaun worked diligently to address every challenge he faced while caring for his mother when he created this unique and groundbreaking technology. In addition, he asks current caregivers and professionals in the “senior” space for input regularly so he can incorporate additional features as needed. New challenges create the need for new solutions.
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“Caregiving is a constant learning experience.” — Vivian Frazier
Featured image source (top): Briocare.us
About Shaun Mitra, CEO BrioCare
Shaun Mitra leads BrioCare’s strategy, sales and operations. He focuses on creating a customer-centric business using voice technology to empower older adults to lead active, healthy, purposeful lives. Previously, he spent over 20 years with various global technology companies in business management roles in the healthcare and manufacturing industry. He actively works with various senior associations and regional chapters to promote use of technology for Aging in Place. Additionally, he volunteers for Meals on Wheels. Shaun lives in Frisco with his wife and daughter. In his free time, he enjoys yoga, meditation and travel.