A current hot button issue in healthcare is the impact of social isolation on the health and wellness of senior citizens. Results from a study from BYU suggest that loneliness can increase the risk of death by 26%—and this risk increases for those who live alone.
What does this mean for seniors who are socially isolated, homebound, or suffering from a chronic health issue?
At the recent NYC Digital Forum I attended along with some of my JUICE Pharma colleagues, several startups presented innovative solutions to this very issue. One of the most interesting presentations was from AgeWell Global, a New York-based organization.
AgeWell tackles the problem of loneliness with its unique seniors-helping-seniors model. AgeWell recruits able seniors to become companions to those who are homebound, isolated, or living with a chronic health condition, to brighten their day. The visits can help reduce the effects of social isolation and improve the chances for a longer, happier life.
AgeWell is not only about preventing social isolation. The visiting able seniors use a health screening app to help identify clinical, social, and environmental issues that may affect the resident’s health and well being. The tool consists of a 20/20 format (20 observations and 20 questions). Based on the answers, the resident can receive supportive assistance in the form of health screenings, social services, or medical referrals.
Today, around 20% of elderly patients who are discharged from the hospital are readmitted in less than 30 days for preventable reasons. AgeWell is working with hospitals to be part of the discharge plan to help keep elderly patients from returning to the hospital unnecessarily. The ultimate goal of AgeWell is to foster independence and help more seniors stay out of hospitals altogether.
In our pursuit of helping people live better lives, we can’t underestimate the power of connecting like-minded people. Whether it’s connecting people who are dealing with similar medical conditions, or those who share similar experiences, such as what AgeWell offers.
One of the ways we at JUICE have found success is by working closely with different communities to discover the most relevant ways to further intimate human connections. Sure there will always be regulatory hurdles, but as AgeWell demonstrates, there are always new innovations to explore around the corner.
To learn more about AgeWell, visit their website.