When we consider the biggest health challenges facing society today, conditions such as obesity or cancer spring to mind.
While these capture the headlines, a major, widespread cause of illness is less prominent: Loneliness.
The figures are shocking. According to AgeUK, the number of over-50s experiencing loneliness could reach two million by 2025. That’s a 49% increase in just 10 years (from around 1.4 million in 2016).
More and more often, loneliness is being identified as the root of a multitude of health conditions. Research reported in the Association for Psychological Science shows that loneliness is as big a killer as obesity, alcohol misuse and heavy smoking. Lonely people are also more likely to suffer from dementia, heart disease and depression. It is also estimated that loneliness could increase peoples risk of death by 26%!
With the effects of loneliness now receiving global attention, how can it be addressed – can the new field of AgeTech help tackle loneliness and reduce social isolation?
The team at Kraydel recently participated in the Vodafone Report, “Harnessing technology to tackle loneliness.” The Report looked into the health impacts of loneliness and social isolation, as well as the impact of care-giving on society and the economy. One of the main findings was that technology can help with offerings that enable quick and easy connections (such as video calling, media sharing, etc) with friends and family, thereby reducing loneliness and isolation.
Prevalence of loneliness
However, loneliness is especially prevalent in people who do not use smartscreen technologies (e.g. smartphones, tablets, etc):
- Over half (51%) of all people aged 75 and over, live alone
- Two fifths of all older people (about 3.9 million) say the television is their main company
At Kraydel we’ve embraced this challenge. We have designed our service around the TV – probably the most familiar and widely used screen globally. We’ve developed technology that converts the TV into the communication heart of the home.
Kraydel’s TV-based video calling, enhances social connectivity (by easy video calls through the TV with friends and family), and enables easy access to out of hospital care (through TV-based telehealth). With our suite of well-being sensors, the service can help people maintain their independence in their own homes for longer.
While video-calling is a great way to stay in touch with friends and family, diverse social connections is key to tackling loneliness. Central to Kraydel’s service is a social platform to keep seniors socially active and engaged. The platform hosts groups, services and educational tools to help seniors remain active. Not just in their homes but in their local community, stay connected to friends and to provide access to exciting activities.
As we build out our functionality we will continue to work closely with user groups. We are determined that AgeTech will truly define how economic and social benefit can prosper from good. And at the same time bring new impetus to the silver economy.