Unfortunately social isolation is all too pervasive as a negative condition among older adults. The silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic was that it put a spotlight on social isolation, and has brought it to the forefront for finding solutions.
Social isolation breeds feelings of loneliness and boredom. It is cultivated as the result of challenges such as the inability to drive, persistent illness, outliving friends and companions, and simply the lack of a social network, all of which become more prevalent in older adults. For those living in long term care facilities (i.e. nursing homes, assisted living, and memory care facilities), social isolation is exacerbated by the need of moving out of one's own home and familiar surroundings.
The health risk of social isolation is huge and brings about both physical and mental crisis, in addition to the emotional feeling of sadness.
Aging Together uses donated funding to combat social isolation through the "Tech for Seniors" initiative, which places iPads and robotic companion pets into long term care facilities in our 5-county region.
iPads for Seniors
Aging Together started the iPads for Seniors campaign at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020. Since then over 20 iPads have been donated to regional long-term care facilities so that residents who are not able to leave or see their loved ones may communicate with them via virtual chat platforms. The iPads also enable residents to connect with doctors virtually, rather than missing appointments. And they reduce boredom by offering online activities. The end result is a reduction in depression, boredom and loneliness, and improved opportunity for well being. One iPad costs an average of $400.
"The donation of the iPads to our Senior Living facility has truly been a blessing. We appreciate your generosity so much. It has given our residents the opportunity to connect with their families and friends during these trying times. To see the excitement in their eyes when they see their faces and hear their voices bring tears to my eyes."
Pets for Seniors
For many reasons, including dementia, older adults are no longer able to care for a pet. Animals are an integral part of loneliness prevention as they offer companionship. Robotic companion pets are designed to be life-like with realistic fur, and pet-like sounds such as purring and barking. They have sensory response capabilities when touched, so they make sounds and move while being held or watched. Not only do these robotic pets offer wellbeing, but they are integrated into activities that remove boredom and add both mental and physical stimulation. Aging Together has donated 18 pets to long-term care facilities. The average cost of a life-like robotic pet is $125.
Would you like to help? Donate by clicking on a picture below. Thank you!