Question: what would be more detrimental to your health than smoking fifteen cigarettes a day? The answer will certainly surprise you, since it is peculiarly unrelated to the consumption of unhealthy food, forbidden substances or alcohol: it’s loneliness. Weak social connections have proven to be worse for our health than being obese. And what’s more: they increase the risk of developing dementia by 64%! We feel that the time has come to acknowledge what could in all seriousness be referred to as an epidemic among older adults for what it is: a very serious problem that needs to be addressed – now.
With the shocking statistics described above in mind, we found it absolutely devastating to hear that the same research has found that half of all older adults point to their television set when asked about their main company – and that 17% of older adults are in contact with family, friends and neighbours less than once a week.
What is even more incomprehensible is the fact the number of older adults experiencing loneliness has not changed at all over the past few decades. While networks and webs were spun all over the world, connecting people from every corner of the world to each other (in real-time!), older adults seem to have been largely left out. While they are the people who benefit most from being connected to their friends and family.
It is for this reason that we started developing smartphone software by, for and with older adults: to provide older adults with easy access to everything modern technology has to offer. Because smartphones are by far the easiest form of technology to implement in our daily lives – keeping us connected to the world whenever and wherever we are. Think about the possibilities: skyping with a loved one abroad while brushing our teeth, playing online scrabble with our granddaughter, receiving beautiful photo’s of the blossoming cherry tree in the garden of a friend.. We make all these things available to anyone, regardless of age and technological know-how!
In addition, our campaign has had some unanticipated but wonderful side effects: our collaborations with older adult organizations and individual older adults have resulted in a variety of spontaneous social processes which transform countless small groups of test users into warm, caring new circles of friends; discussing, after a little while, not only their use of the GoLivePhone app but all kinds of daily activities with each other – through whatsapp or during one of their frequent real-life meetings. We are very pleased to have been able to set these heart-warming processes in motion, and believe them to be yet another example of proof for our stand that humanized technology has the power to connect us, rather than drive us apart.