Social isolation for seniors is a growing issue. Unfortunately, it’s one that hasn’t been addressed as aggressively as other health concerns. At Cuida Health we’re on a mission to change that.
Addressing Social Isolation With LiSA
Cuida Health is a subscription-based health and wellness tech company. We’re endeavoring to alleviate the negative impacts of social isolation by helping seniors improve their emotional and physical wellbeing, monitor mood and cognition, and thrive independently.
Our first product, LiSA – which stands for Language Interface for Senior Adults – is a combined Amazon Alexa skill for seniors and smart device app for family and caregivers.
Through guided voice commands, the LiSA skill gives seniors:
- Increased communication between loved ones or caregivers with voice-to-text messaging
- Alternative ways to enrich their day with suggested activities and events
- Assistance solving everyday problems like transportation
- Improved emotional and physical health with reminders and tips for medication, exercise, nutrition and sleep
The LiSA application provides insights for family members, friends, or other third party caregivers. A dashboard allows loved ones to see engagement levels and receive notifications. In addition, a text sent from the LiSA app results in a voice message that seniors can listen and verbally respond to in the LiSA skill.
LiSA isn’t just a tech project by entrepreneurs and business professionals. We’re sons, daughters, wives, husbands, friends, and social people. We launched LiSA because we’ve seen or intimately know the ill effects social isolation, loneliness, and physical or cognitive decline can have on a loved one.
So, What Is Social Isolation?
When talking about social isolation, many people associate it with loneliness. And while the two can share a few similarities, they’re actually different conditions. A person can be socially isolated but not lonely, or feel lonely even if they’re not socially isolated.
Loneliness is a temporary lack of contact with others or a subjective state of feeling alone even when in the company of others. Loneliness may also be mistaken for depression in older adults who have difficulties with losing a spouse, siblings or friends.
Social isolation, on the other hand, is an objective state where there is a complete or near-complete lack of contact between a person and other people or society in general.
The Harmful Effects of Social Isolation
Regardless of the causes of senior isolation, the consequences of not addressing this issue can have severe adverse effects.
An article by The American Psychosomatic Society notes that social isolation has been repeatedly shown to be a pre-cursor to mortality and serious morbidity. The article offers these grim details:
“The magnitude of risk associated with social isolation is comparable with that of cigarette smoking and other major biomedical and psychosocial risk factors. However, our understanding of how and why social isolation is risky for health—or conversely—how and why social ties and relationships are protective of health, still remains quite limited.”
Leading Causes of Social Isolation
All sorts of factors can contribute to an inability for older adults to interact with others:
- Mobility problems
- Poor health
- Loss of a spouse
- Loss of family and friends due to death or relocation
- No longer being able to drive – according to the AARP, life expectancy exceeds safe driving expectancy
- Limited transportation options or an inability to afford transportation
- Living in a community with little to no social opportunities or events
- Geographical isolation – living in a rural area
- Retirement or other loss of a built in social network
- Being ostracized due to age – or other ageism issues
Reports have also shown that, “Having no children, or living far away from them, especially increases the risk of social isolation…and deteriorating mental or physical health may limit a person’s ability to participate in social interactions outside the home.” But it also states that, “staying socially active may help slow cognitive decline and improve happiness.”
Is Social Isolation Really That Prevalent?
This issue doesn’t just affect a small portion of the population. According to the U.S. Census Bureau 11 million people aged 65 and older live alone; that’s almost 30% of the population. By the time people reach age 85, a full 40% live alone, according to a research paper by Council on Contemporary Families.
Now, just because a person lives alone doesn’t mean they’re automatically socially isolated. However, without proper engagement and stimulation both mentally and physically, social isolation can occur.
See If LiSA Can Help
If you or someone you know is concerned about or dealing with the negative impacts of caring for an aging adult, living independently or social isolation let’s see if we can help. Perhaps LiSA can provide a solution.
Click here to tell us a bit more about your situation and we’ll be in touch to see if LiSA is a good fit for you.