GRAND RAPIDS—Samaritas, a health and human services nonprofit, announced a partnership with Netherlands-based 1Minuut to introduce assisted reality to care for older adults with dementia.

The Samaritas Caregiver Accessible Resources Education Services (CARES) Program is delivered Glass Enterprise Edition 2, a small, lightweight non-medical wearable device with a glanceable display for hands-free work, together with 1Minuut’s Genzõ app, to connect caregivers at home with specially trained professionals and iimprove dementia care skills. Genzõ will run on Google Cloud.

Samaritas officials said it’s the first time these two assisted reality innovations have been used together for dementia care anywhere in the United States. Samaritas and its tech partners believe it will help extend the time older adults with dementia can live at home with loved ones by allowing family caregivers to communicate in real time, with real view, so a professional off-site can see and hear what the caregiver sees and hears, providing instant support and advice on everything from behavioral challenges to home safety.

“To fulfill our mission and our commitment to seniors, Samaritas has reached across the globe for the benefit of Michigan families,” said Sam Beals, CEO of Samaritas. “We established the Samaritas CARES Program to meet the needs of older adults living with dementia now and in the future by training loved ones and elder care providers. We focus on what they can do and enjoy, not what they’ve lost, which also helps reduce stress and burnout. Our goal is to support caregivers to assist older adults at home to maintain their independence as long as possible, while also reducing daunting health care costs, in a way that’s more accessible than ever.”

Genzõ is an all-in-one health care communication app, developed by 1Minuut, that is double encrypted to securely enable chat and video calling through Glass Enterprise Edition 2. CARES-trained and certified Samaritas specialists coach professional and family caregivers of older adults with dementia directly from the caregivers’ perspective with the built-in camera on the wearable Glass device.

“In the Netherlands, we have seen and proven how innovative technical solutions, like the pairing of Genzõ with Glass, has transformed the quality of elder care in complex medical situations,” said Martijn de Groot, co-owner of 1Minuut.

The Michigan Health Endowment Fund provided a grant of nearly $500,000 to support training, program operation and purchase of technology to offer professional and family caregivers access to the CARES Program at no cost during the pilot phase, which is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2021 in Grand Rapids before expanding to other cities throughout the state.

Samaritas is one of Michigan’s largest faith-based, nonprofit health and human services agencies serving Michigan communities since 1934 and nearly 14,000 people statewide. Seniors seeking cost-effective, independent living options with memory care and rehab support can lean on Samaritas for assistance. The agency also helps children find loving families through family preservation, foster care and adoption programs and services; New Americans access resettlement services for refugees and establish new homes; and those facing homelessness, women existing in the prison system, and victims of human trafficking with transitional homes. Samaritas offers affordable living residential communities with clean, low-cost environments for seniors, families and people with developmental disabilities.

Visit samaritas.org for more information.