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Assisted Technology for the Prevention of Loneliness in the Elderly

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Where Care and Family Meet
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The need to help older adults stay engaged socially isn't just a nice thing to do; it can be the difference between life and death.  
Loneliness has been called the “silent killer” of the elderly.  Social isolation and loneliness increase mortality by 2times.  1 in 10 older adults suffer from loneliness and social isolation. Half of all individual over the age of 75 live alone and 5 million admit the television is their main source company.  It has been estimated that 50% of people in nursing homes NEVER get a visit.   Loneliness is NOT the lack of people!  It is the lack of close, intimate people and due to the many losses older adults have had in their lives, finding a way to keep them connected “at the heart level” is a real challenge.
The vulnerability of the older adult who is frail and has physical or cognitive difficulties needs to be addressed.  Our idea is to use existing technology in an innovative way. Our service is affordable, portal, and convenient and is designed to make it possible for there to be meaningful connections with those that are important to the older adult, regardless of where they live.  This can help prevent the development of loneliness, a critical factor in mortality. 
Technology can provide the answer, but the technology without assistance creates more challenges than most older adults can overcome.  Connecting Hearts® Virtual Visits is the only federally registered video calling service that uses supported technology to assist seniors (and persons with disabilities) to have a “virtual visit” without having to own or to learn how to use any device.  Our care provider brings their own laptop and wireless connection (hotspot) with them.  Our care providers are trained and qualified to manage the technology aspect, but they are also there to facilitate the interaction to improve the emotional experience.  The cost of the service is affordable because the older adult doesn’t buy the equipment or need to have internet service.  They don’t have to learn use it.  The cost is only for the “visit”.  We keep the cost low by using a model similar to “Uber” in that we hire and train students, and other individuals who either can’t work full-time or don’t want to work full-time and they use their own devices.   They determine the designated territory they want to work and the hours they want.  The care providers are put through a background check and training on how to facilitate as needed a meaningful connection for the older adult with family or friends.   Connecting Hearts® Virtual Visits provides jobs for students or other adults who may want to supplement their income.
 We can provide this service in a person’s home, a nursing home, retirement community or rehabilitation facility. We would like to continue to develop our product/service and create our own HIPAA compliant portal to reduce the cost of using an existing secure portal (they are very expensive) as well as create additional features which will make it more adaptable for hearing impaired and vision-impaired seniors.  To provide our services in a supportive community, we are required to use a HIPAA compliant portal.  We would like to develop our own app that would easily allow family members to schedule visits with our care provider.
We would ultimately like to expand to include assistance with telehealth visits with the ability to translate the doctor/nurses’ voice into Spanish or other languages for the older adult for whom English is their second language. 


Submitted

Nov 26 2016

Organization Organization Type

For-profit

Challenge

Technology

Product Name

Connecting Hearts Virtual Visits

Product Stage

Prototype

Team
  • Elaine A. Malec
  • Michael Malec
  • Joshua Renner
  • Lyn Weller

Contact this team about Funding, Collaboration or other methods of support. Contact Team


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