Thanks to advances in nutrition, sanitation, and healthcare technologies, people are living longer than ever. A baby born in 1915 could only into their 50s. In 2015,the for a baby born in North America was 77 years for a boy and 81 years for a girl, and (people aged 100 and over) is projected to grow eightfold by 2050.
Our rapidly lengthening life spans are presenting numerous challenges, many of them related to geriatric healthcare. While discussions of how to handle the physical healthcare needs of the elderly dominate the headlines, the mental health of seniors, especially isolated and mobility-challenged seniors, also needs to be addressed.
Old Age Often Means Loneliness and Isolation
As people age, their social networks begin to deteriorate. Retirement means no longer going to a workplace and interacting with co-workers, supervisors, and clients.Friends and family members die or move away.These problems are exacerbated when health issues necessitate moving into independent or assisted living facilities. Such moves force seniors to cut off community ties they have spent many years, perhaps decades building, possibly relocate far away from family and friends, and of loneliness and feelings of social isolation.
Even when seniors are lucky enough be able to “age in place” and stay in their homes, maintaining communication with others becomes difficult. Many seniors can no longer drive and suffer from mobility issues. When taking a trip to the grocery store is a challenge, traveling hundreds or thousands of miles to visit far-flung family members is unthinkable.
Konversai Allows Seniors to Share Knowledge, Make Meaningful Connections
It is estimated that 10 million elderly Americans that is rooted in feelings of isolation and loneliness. However, a study by Michigan State University found that internet usage among the elderly could reduce the risk of depression by 30%, particularly among older retirees who live alone. However, the study has a caveat; quality usage matters over quantity. To obtain positive results, the researchers note, it’s important for seniors to engage in online activities that are meaningful and “enhance” their lives, not detract from them.
Meaningful, life-enhancing interactionsare what new knowledge-sharing platform is all about, says CEO Sushma Sharma.“Konversai empowers users to share their own knowledge and learn from others while building mutually beneficial, one-on-one connections and earning extra money in the process,” Sharma explains. “It’s aimed at users of all ages, but I’m especially excited about what our platform can do for home-bound seniors.”
Unlike traditional e-learning platforms, which feature prerecorded video lessons that are sold to the masses, Konversai’s knowledge-providers and knowledge-seekers interact directly through live video sessions. Users can offer knowledge or seek out the knowledge of others in virtually any category, from second languages to calculus to cooking and other life skills. Knowledge providers earn money that they can keep for themselves or donate to a charity of their choice; they can also choose to give free lessons.
“Personal interaction is what sets Konversai apart,” notes Sharma. “Users have real-time, one-on-one conversations.”
Although users can earn money from sharing their knowledge with others – a real plus for retirees on tight budgets – the benefits to home-bound seniors go far beyond extra cash. In addition to being cut off from their social support systems, retirees often lose their sense of purpose once they are no longer working. Women, who make up the majority of the elderly population, are hit with a double-whammy; not only have they given up their careers, they are also no longer taking care of their families.
“Everyone wants to feel they are contributing to society, and nobody wants to feel they are a burden,” says Sharma. “Teaching others goes a long way towards filling the void left by retirement and an empty nest, and learning new things from others makes the elderly feel active and engaged.”
While Sharma feels that everyone has knowledge to share that can greatly benefit others, she points out that seniors are veritable fountains of information.
“It’s been said that the best classroom in the world is at the feet of an elderly person,” says Sharma. “Konversai lets seniors all over the world set up their own classrooms without ever leaving their homes, where they can share the wealth of knowledge they’ve accumulated over a lifetime.”