Future of Aging Research

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Future of Aging Research

Some strategies used by organizations and business owners to address the social and emotional challenges associated with senior adults in the US include implementing socially functional groups, using artificial intelligence to facilitate older adults with a digital companion, and conducting community-specific programs for senior adults.

Circle of Friends

  • Circle of Friends is an approach, which was initially designed by the researchers at Helsinki University, Finland. This is a group rehabilitation strategy that aims to prevent as well as treat social and emotional isolation in older adults.
  • Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Program (GWEP) has introduced the Circle of Friends program in St. Louis, Missouri. Additionally, "a hospital in Perry County, Pennsylvania, and the Family Practice program at Saint Louis University are offering Circle of Friends groups."
  • The strategy uses eight seniors who have identified themselves as socially isolated, and these seniors are then required to meet for at least 12 times in three months. A facilitator accompanies these seniors and helps them make "new friends, feeling less lonely, sharing feelings of loneliness with others: experiencing meaningful things together, and transitioning into a self-supportive group that continues to meet after the initial three months." The sessions conducted by the Circle of Friends include numerous activities that involve art and culture, and the sessions also have therapeutic exercises.

Intuition Robotics

  • One of the most common challenges faced by the elderly population in the US is loneliness, and Intuition Robotics is using a digitally advanced approach for tackling the issue. The company has engineered an AI-powered companion robot, called ElliQ.
  • "The proactive cognitive artificial intelligence product initiates conversation to help the senior stay in touch with family or loved ones, engage in healthy behaviors, including nudges to take medication and stay connected with the outside world."
  • This product is currently being tested in the United States. The early findings from the test have revealed that the product is highly effective in eliminating loneliness in the elderly. The product is unique, and it uses an empathetic interface strategy, which allows the robot to build an emotional connection with the seniors and maintain an empathetic relationship with them.

Seniors Preparing for Rainbow Years (SPRY) Program

  • Seniors Preparing for Rainbow Years (SPRY) program is a community-specific approach tailored by The Montrose Center in Houston, Texas, is based on the Indigenous Leadership model, which leverages community support to create a welcoming social environment for the community's elderly population, where the LGBTQ seniors experience therapy sessions and social support programs.
  • The program is focused on treating social isolation, depression, and resistance to mental health services in LGBTQ seniors. The strategy uses "community belonging" as a factor to eradicate social isolation in LGBTQ adults.

Startups

  • Papa is a Florida based startup; it is currently gaining buzz because of its highly innovative approach towards treating social isolation in older adults. The startup teams its customers (older adults) with families and individuals to provide them with companionship and assistance.
  • Silvernest is a startup in Minnesota; it is working for the emotional well-being of the elderly by eliminating social isolation and the hassles related to finding the perfect roommate. According to a review published by the Los Angeles Times, Silvernest combines the abilities of AirBnb and Match.com for older adults who would like to rent out a room for money or chores. Offering the perfect companion who is compatible with the homeowner's and the house's situations is the company's ultimate aim.

Research Studies

The State of Social Isolation Among Seniors

  • "The Epidemiology of Social Isolation: National Health and Aging Trends Study," research published by the Journal of Gerontology, is focused on identifying subgroups in the elderly population, who are at risk for social isolation. It details the prevalence of social isolation in older Americans. The study was published in volume 75 and issue 1 of the journal, which was released in January 2020, and it was initially published on March 26, 2018.
  • "Social Isolation and Loneliness in Older Adults: Opportunities for the Health Care System" is a research study conducted by National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. This piece of research is focused on evaluating the impact of social isolation on senior adults' mental and physical health. The research was published in February 2020.
  • The Journal of Aging and Mental Health published a research study titled "Qualitative study of loneliness in a senior housing community: the importance of wisdom and other coping strategies;" this study attempts to identify characteristics of social isolation in senior adults, who are living independently within a senior housing community. This study was published on January 10, 2020.
  • "Social disconnectedness, perceived isolation, and symptoms of depression and anxiety among older Americans (NSHAP): a longitudinal mediation analysis" is a research study published by The Lancet Public Health. It aims to explain how social isolation and perceptions of social isolation in senior adults can lead to depression and anxiety. The study was published online on January 3, 2020.

The Challenges of Being a Care Giver

  • The Journal of Family Nursing published a research paper titled "Family-Focused Care of Older Adults: Contemporary Issues and Challenges," this research focused on outlining the issues and challenges associated with family caregiving in older adults. The paper was published on November 18, 2019.
  • Research published by the Public Policy and Aging Report listed the trends associated with caregiving in America. One of these trends speaks about the decline in the number of caregivers and the reasons behind the same. The research lists several challenges faced by family caregivers in the US. The research was published on April 20, 2020.
  • "Caregivers' Perceptions Managing Functional Needs Among Older Adults Receiving Post-Acute Home Health Care" is a paper published by the Research in Gerontological Nursing. This paper focuses on highlighting the challenges associated with being a caregiver of the elderly. It highlights the experiences of caregivers with older adults in a post-acute home health care setting. The research was published on March 25, 2019.

The Impact of Aging on Families

  • Innovation in Aging published a research paper called "Family Relationships and Well-Being." The paper highlights the impact of aging on family relationships. It was published on November 11, 2017.
  • "Do Older Parents' Relationships With Their Adult Children Affect Cognitive Limitations, and Does This Differ for Mothers and Fathers," is a research paper published by The Journals of Gerontology. It attempts to explore the quality of the relationship between older adults and their adult children. The research was published in August 2018.

Research Strategy

Recent research about the impact of aging on families seems unavailable in the public domain. We searched through a variety of online publication libraries such as PubMed, NIH, Wiley Online Library, Oxford Academic, Sage journals, and several others. Most of the papers found on these portals were published in the 1990s and the early 2000s. Additionally, the recently published papers were not particularly limited to the American population. Next, we also attempted to look for relevant surveys and research polls conducted by research companies like Pew Research and Nielsen, but no recent research studies were found. We were hoping to find surveys about the impact of aging on families and the kind of relationships that exist between senior adults and their families, but it seems like no recent research has been conducted about the topic. Due to the limited availability of research papers around the topic, we have included articles from 2017 and 2018.



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