We are excited to share the launch of Blooming Health. Our mission is to solve social isolation and loneliness in older adults using the combined power of technology and community organizations.
Social isolation and loneliness is a serious, growing problem. It affects the physical health of older adults to the tune of smoking 15 cigarettes per day and increases their risk of mortality by 50%. When unsolved, this problem costs Medicare $1608 more per year for each socially isolated vs connected older adult (~$20B opportunity).
Medical innovation and improved chronic disease management are extending our lives, possibly increasing average life expectancy at birth upto 90 years in South Korea by 2030. Yet, as we live longer, one of the key issues that keeps me up at night is how are we going to find meaning, purpose, and happiness as we get older. Healthy aging, especially the ability to have a quality health and life in the older years is my ambition for all of us.
My interest in aging and its problems became personal when I lost my dearest grandma in 2015. She was a key matriarch of our family who was very active in keeping us connected and supporting us. Yet, in her old age, she experienced loneliness despite being surrounded by family. My grandma who was generally very healthy experienced more illnesses in those last few years before her death. Two books on these topics were very enlightening to me and helped me cope with my grief: ‘Being Mortal’ by Atul Gawande talks about the many deliberations and key decisions older adults and their family members have to make to support their independence and happiness. ‘When Breath Becomes Air’ by Paul Kalanidhi helped me understand how a person goes through life knowing that death is near.
Predictors of Loneliness
We have all witnessed the problem of social isolation and loneliness becoming more common across all ages during the pandemic. While social isolation is objectively based on the lack of regular social contacts with people, loneliness is more subjective and is the perceived lack of companionship and feeling alone. Specifically, this problem affects 1 in 4 older adults, increasing their health risks. This statistic gets too real quickly for most of us. Many people I have spoken to on this topic have brought up their mom, dad, grandparents, an aunt, an uncle, or a neighbor who have been affected by this problem, especially after a key life change event like the death of a loved one.
Community organizations have been supporting older adults on their social needs long before the term social determinants of health (SDOH) was coined. Though the number of seniors who live at home and those who need community support are growing, funding availability and flexibility for community organizations is not growing.
Indeed, this is why we started Blooming Health to better connect older adults to impactful community-based social programs they need most through targeted information and referral via simple, inclusive technology.
Several key thought leaders in the aging and community services space have contributed to the key principles behind the solution we are building at Blooming Health
Currently, our team is looking to actively connect with community organizations (e.g. senior centers, NORCs, home health) who support older adults to age independently at home in a safe and healthy way. If you or someone you know work in such community organizations across the US, we will highly appreciate an introduction. Please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.