Allen “Chip” Teel, MD, a family physician in Maine, is pioneering a new model for virtual assisted living at home. Use of technology plus a combination of paid staff and volunteers to check on seniors living in their own homes, is providing a new, low cost and safe way for seniors to age in their own homes.
Through his company, Full Circle America (FCA), Dr. Teel has implemented this model, which he calls the “Maine Approach,” with success in the community of Damariscotta, Maine. According to an article in The Free Press of Rockland, Maine, Dr. Teel’s FCA, allows “individuals, including those with significant memory impairment as well as those with advanced physical problems due to arthritis, stroke or heart disease, to be monitored by soft technology” plus daily video-telephone or personal visits from paid nursing staff or senior volunteers, enabling them to remain in their own homes, at a cost of less than $700 per month. In addition, FCA provides services such as personal advocates, activity calendars, transportation and errand services, emergency call buttons, weekly planners, mental health assessment, and respite care.
As Dr. Teel describes in his book, Alone and Invisible: Averting Disaster in Aging America, this new approach to enable aging at home not only is desired by the majority of seniors, who prefer to remain in the familiar surroundings of their own homes with the sense of independence, privacy and dignity that this entails, but also will become absolutely necessary because, with the rapid aging of our population, there simply will not be enough nursing home facilities available to meet the demand, nor the resources available to cover the cost.
According to Dr. Teel’s research, the coming “gray tsunami” of aging Baby Boomers means that by 2030 there will be 85 million Americans over age 65 and by 2050 the number of Americans over age 85 will have increased by 525% from 4 million today to an estimated 21 million.
“Even if many of these elders could afford $10,000 a month for nursing home care, there will not be enough facilities available to fill the demand for them nor will there be sufficient caregivers available to staff them,” Dr. Teel told the Free Press. “The costs of this care would be staggering.”
In an introduction to his book, Dr. Teel writes, “Our current way of caring for [the 85 million Americans who will be over 65 years by 2030] is not going to work. Not only is it too costly for the individual citizen, it will bankrupt our government.”
He continues, “Some people may be disturbed by what I’ve written. Some people will be engaged by the stories. But I hope everyone will agree drastic changes need to be made. It’s easy to turn a blind eye to difficult situations and pretend they don’t exist. It’s hard for institutions and agencies to consider very different ways of doing things. That’s why my colleagues and I are ready to work to make a difference.”
Dr. Teel is proposing to make his model available for implementation in other communities nationwide, through a franchise approach. Listen to Dr. Teel describe his plans and his “Maine Approach” to virtual assisted living on this video of an interview by a Maine television station »
His book, Alone and Invisible: Averting Disaster in Aging America, is available for purchase via PayPal.
Editor’s Note: HelpingYouCare™ learned of Dr. Allan “Chip” Teel and his pioneering approach to virtual assisted living in the home by “word of mouth” from Mr. David Morse, a mutual friend who has himself provided caring assistance to many loved ones. We thank Dave for this referral.
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