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Connecting with the older generation

Updated: Aug 28, 2020

With a year that has been devastating for everyone, our mature age citizens have been uniquely impacted. Innovators around the world come up with new and heartwarming ways for people to support and connect with their elders.

The Royal Commission into Aged Care recently found that 87% of the Australian general public either 'agreed' or 'strongly agreed' that the government should provide more funding for aged care. So it is nice to know that whilst this sector is currently suffering through a crisis the rest of society does care.

But what are some of the interesting innovations that are helping to boost the spirits of those, many particularly isolated this year?

The social contact pod has been developed in order to allow seniors who remain vulnerable to infection to visit their loved ones safely. The easily transportable unit can be easily attached to the front of a house/nursing home or in a garden. There is a door at each end of the pod allowing visitors to enter at the opposite end to the resident. Inside there is a perspex partition separating the groups but an area of plastic membrane to allow for contact and hand holding without risk.

Pen pal programs for the elderly have also taken off. Bringing connection to those on either side of the exchange these letter sending programs can also be very beneficial to protecting the mental acuity of older people. These programs do of course exist for people across all age groups. Our very own past employees recently stared Iso Pals - a way for Aussies of all ages to rediscover the joy of letter writing and new connections during a trying time.

Two New Yorker Millennials started the Long Distance Movie Club, a virtual film club for two different retirement homes across the US. Young and old regularly come together to watch the same film and then discuss it afterwards. This also gives the socially isolated elderly a chance to tell interesting tales about their real lives, "I was so disappointed when the price went up to 25 cents to get into the movies" said Jean, one participating resident.

16 year old Neel Jain started entirely volunteer-run grocery delivery service PDX Concierge when he started delivering food to his own grandmother. The service has extended to a wider catchment area across the state of Oregon and helps the elderly, immunocompromised and first responders.

The CareAlert smart nightlight allows loved ones to monitor the wellbeing of older friends/family members without relying on a phone or other more invasive monitoring. While still in final development the night light can monitor things including motion, sound, temperature and air quality, sending the information back to the loved one via an app. The light can then alert the end user via the app if something is wrong, so while the nightlight cannot record visuals or the voices of the senior citizen, it can operate as a speaker if the loved one needs to communicate with them in an emergency situation. This voice function can also set voice reminders for users to take medication, attend appointments etc.

Zara Cooper


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