This pandemic has impacted all of us, but none more so than our seniors and our residents of long-term care facilities. Seniors, in particular, are a priority risk group because of the high risk of complications with COVID-19. Because of this, nursing homes and assisted living facilities have had to implement aggressive social distancing and visitation restriction practices.
These life-saving measures can have the effect of creating social isolation among those living in these facilities, particularly our seniors. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, social isolation is associated with about a 50% increased risk of dementia. They also report that poor social relationships, due to social isolation or loneliness, is associated with a 29% increased risk of heart disease and a 32% increased risk of stroke.
In addition to a virus that threatens seniors’ lives, our seniors face real risks when they cannot connect to family and loved ones. That’s why we have collaborated with the Shelby County Health Department to alleviate social isolation through a new micro-grant program called Senior Tech Connect.
Senior Tech Connect offers the opportunity for licensed assisted care living facilities and homes for the aged in Shelby County to apply for a grant of up to $5,000 to increase residents’ access to virtual communication. Through this grant, facilities can purchase devices such as iPads, tablets, headphones, and webcams to ensure residents can have more access to virtually connect with family and loved ones. Residents can also be ensured expanded healthcare access through the option for telehealth visits through the program.
Access to digital devices and virtual visits are not perfect substitutes for in-person visits from your daughter, son, or loved one. But, it does help residents maintain connection as we all attempt to keep safe and slow the spread.
Assisted care living facilities and homes for the aged can apply for the Senor Tech Connect micro-grant until September 30, 2020. You can find more information about Senior Tech Connect and apply here.
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