By Meg LaPorte
Research has shown that social isolation and loneliness among older adults can have serious health consequences. Indeed, studies have found that a lack of social relationships is as strong a risk factor for mortality as are smoking, obesity, or lack of physical activity. What’s more, older adults who are lonely have an increased risk of dying sooner and are more likely to experience a decline in their mobility, compared to those who are not lonely.
Show Us the Love
Senior living communities are in a particularly unique position to help prevent their residents from becoming isolated and lonely. Accushield, a Senior Housing Forum partner, has created a technology that helps providers tackle social isolation with data and analytics. Traditionally, visitors entering a senior living community sign-in using a paper sign-in log. In their effort to streamline this process, Accushield created a touchscreen, sign-in tablet for guests. Through this feature, the Love Meter emerged.
The Love Meter is a data point pulled from the community visitor history that gives management the ability to see the least visited residents in the building.
Accushield founder Charles Mann notes that the Love Meter displays the number of non-healthcare individuals—typically family and friends—who visit each resident. “Including family, friends, and third-party care providers, Accushield’s data gives a comprehensive view of the level of care and attention each resident receives. The old-school visitor sign-in log makes tracking this visitor history next to impossible,” he says.
A Valuable Tool to Combat Isolation
“Isolation and depression go hand-in-hand,” says Mann, “so understanding who the least visited residents are can improve overall community health and prevent move-outs from unhappy residents.”
For Celebration Village in Acworth, Ga., the Love Meter is a key part of the community’s Masterpiece Living program. “We promote social, intellectual, and spiritual growth within our community, which is part of the Masterpiece Living philosophy,” says Keith Mangan, executive director. “The Love Meter feature is one of the tools that we use to prevent isolation and loneliness among our residents because it allows us to easily pull reports that illustrate who is getting visitors and who is not.”
The Masterpiece Living philosophy uses research-based initiatives that aim to build a more satisfied community with the end result being more satisfied residents with lower risks for a decline. Mangan notes that the Love Meter is a powerful tool. “It gives us information at our fingertips,” he says, “and enables us to work with the residents and family members, if necessary, to find out what’s going on.”
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