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How Technology Can Help Ease Social Isolation

By Anthony Cirillo February 09, 2023 Caregiving

A study of more than half a million people in the UK and Canada has linked social isolation to signs of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. More than a third of people worldwide over 50 live alone. In addition to the toll cited above, social isolation also leads to physical, emotional, and mental health issues.

Informal caregivers provide two extra “shifts” of care per resident weekly in assisted living communities, equating to 65 hours per month per resident, according to the authors of a study recently published in Health Affairs. The need for caregiver respite is notable.

Combine the above with the fact that activity directors in care homes turn over every 6-24 months and that it is forecasted that it will take senior living four years to recover to normal staffing levels post covid. And what do you get – sub-par care for seniors and more stress for their caregivers!

Access and Connection Key

Obviously, to disrupt social isolation with technology requires access to technology and connectivity to the Internet. Not to be glossed over, access for many is difficult though most people would agree that even in the poorest of situations, many people own a smart phone.

According to Pew Research, just a quarter of adults with household incomes below $30,000 a year (24%) say they don’t own a smartphone. About four-in-ten adults with lower incomes do not have home broadband services (43%) or a desktop or laptop computer (41%). And a majority of Americans with lower incomes are not tablet owners.

So we need to acknowledge that and work on a grass roots level to improve access because access equals knowledge and connection, and there are health ramifications to having these.

Education After Access

Even equipping people with smartphones, computers, tablets and televisions does not automatically equate with the embracing of technology. People need to understand how to use devices and, more importantly, not be scared of them or feel insecure.

Organizations like Generations on Line can help in this regard. Launched in 2000, they provide tablet and smartphone training through the web or an app.

One Solution That Is Easy to Implement

Sage Stream is a live-stream, interactive senior entertainment network which provides a variety of activities. It’s a practical solution, aimed at isolated older adults, that provides respite to caregivers. Here is an example mix of possible activities.

Sage Stream broadcasts weekly live-stream programs to older adults in all settings. Because it is turnkey and easy to implement – opens in a web browser by inputting the Sage Stream link – anyone can have it up and running in no time. The most important factor is that the broadcasts are live, not on-demand, not prerecorded. And that leads to the next point.

Is Interactive as Good as a Live Performance?

The beauty of live, in-the-moment broadcasts is the ability for the artists to communicate with the audience and the audience back with the artist in real time using the chat feature. Regular subscribers can even send shout outs in advance, and the artist can recognize people during the show.

Utilizing brain science to produce programs that impact cognition, offering an international roster as well as an intergenerational component. Sage Stream fills a certain niche for entertainment that people would otherwise not be exposed to or be able to afford. Similarly, companies like Get Set Up do the same thing in the education space.

Does this sound of interest to you? Sage Stream has 16 weeks of programming lined up starting on February 14. Go here to check it out and use coupon code bundleofentertainment to receive a 50 percent discount. You can also gift it to a loved one or caregiver. And let us know how it impacted them.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Has loneliness impacted you or a loved one? Have you looked for interactive entertainment that offers real-time classes and show? What do you think may be a good solution for seniors living alone?

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The Author

Anthony Cirillo is founder of Sage Stream, the Senior Entertainment/Education Network and president of The Aging Experience, which helps people and companies prepare for aging before it becomes a crisis. A health and aging expert, professional speaker, and media influencer, he is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives with a master’s from the University of Pennsylvania. Anthony serves as a Policy RoundTable member for Nationwide Financial and Bank of America.

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