Older adults, Senior Residential Communities, Family and Professional Caregivers now have a solution to Coronavirus isolation, the latest crisis brought about by COVID-19.
For the next 90 days, the SeeYouLink products will be free of charge to any person or organisation who wants to bring a senior online. Especially welcome are seniors themselves that have longed to use a computer but never thought they could.
SeeYouLink, a US company, is a leader in assistive computing for those who have never used a computer or have tried but have no online skills. This group includes seniors with mild dementia, vision impairment, and technology aversion. For those left behind in the computer age, SeeYouLink is designed to be as easy as turning on a light.
With SeeYouLink seniors and their loved ones get an authentic feature-rich online experience, presented in a way that is optimal for older adults with no computer literacy. The 90-day free access includes such benefits as Video Calling, Photo Sharing, Web Browsing, Email, News, Games and more. After the 90 days, users can continue with the Video Calling feature free of charge or sign on for paid access.
How does SeeYouLink turn non-users into computer aficionados despite advanced age or cognitive impairment?
“The secret is in the design and the system of use,” says Gerontologist Dr. Keith Savell, who trains hundreds of healthcare workers and helped create the look and feel of SeeYouLink.
At first, only the key functionalities are shown in a clean and comfortable to access mode. The secondary and less-used options that might cause cognitive overload are hidden. Display pages are optimized with the larger font, which can be increased further by touching the obvious “Enlarge” button. Of course, senior users never have to worry about logging in, as they are logged in and connect automatically.
The SeeYouLink team follows the growing body of research, recognising the importance of socialisation and productive activity as essential features of successful aging. For example, according to a 9-year follow up study of 7,000 seniors in Alameda County, California, published in The Journal of Epidemiology, “… people who lacked social and community ties were more likely to die in the follow-up period than those with more extensive contacts. The age-adjusted relative risks for those most Isolated when compared to those with the most social contacts were 2.3 for men and 2.8 for women.”
The shortened lifespan was independent of health habits, economic status, and physical activity. Isolation itself can kill. “We understood the essential need for connectivity years ago when Keith and I began to design the SeeYouLink assistive computing system,” says Rich Brown, SeeYouLink’s Founder and President. “Reading these findings made it imperative for us to provide older adults with a means of continuous mental and social stimulation through online connectivity.”
“I believe that those with mild cognitive issues are the most vulnerable due to lack of social interaction”, says Brown. “Our brain is a social organ and changes when we are with others. When we have a social experience, the neurons in our brain fire, in turn, strengthening our neural networks. These are the networks that keep us mentally sharp. One study from the Harvard School of Public Health found that people with no social ties were twice as likely to have cognitive decline as those with only five or six social links”.
“Ironically, our seniors, sequestering to be protected from the serious, often deadly, effects of COVID-19, may be suffering from these equally concerning side effects. Our isolated seniors need our immediate help”, says Brown.
The SeeYouLink team of designers is hopeful that a by-product of sequestration will be more computer literacy among elders that will continue after the crisis is over. They have seen such a result in action.
One of SeeYouLink’s most inspirational and successful projects is with the Six Point Foundation, a UK based organization that has helped to enhance the quality of life of financially restricted Holocaust survivors and refugees of Jewish origin. The SeeYouLink technology was made available in 2015 to these older adults, with an average age of 88. Over 66% of the Holocaust survivors had never used a computer before. The results: 92% said it made them feel more positive, 100% would recommend SeeYouLink for the experience of becoming more computer savvy and independent.
The original project was a five-year project which we were able to extend to six years due to reduced costs for support and development.
“The dangers of losing connectivity may be just as dangerous for our parents and grandparents as the virus itself. We at SeeYouLink are proud and happy to help”, says Brown.