In these uncertain times of social distancing and staying indoors, companies and individuals around the world are looking for ways to help and support each other. One problem that was brought to our attention is the fact that around the world, elderly people are isolated in hospitals and unable to receive visitors. Some hospitals have begun asking the public to send a letter to seniors that they can share with these lonely patients.
The negative effects of social isolation to the elderly
Research shows that social isolation has a detrimental impact on an individual's health and well-being, especially with seniors. Social isolation and loneliness are found to be major risk factors with poor physical and mental health status including increased blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, diminished immune system functioning, depression, anxiety, poorer cognitive functioning, increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, and mortality. While the efforts to decrease the spread of COVID-19 through imposed social distancing and isolation have helped, we should also be cognisant that it has a profound impact on mental health and wellbeing of individuals and the elderly are amongst the worst affected by loneliness and isolation.
There are several recommendations for the patient to deal with this social isolation. These include the use of technology to strengthen social connections using internet apps, video chat, telephone support lines or support groups. We’ve put emphasis on supporting each person’s mental health through different measures especially now that we are in the middle of a global pandemic.
Send Your Letters To Seniors
We wanted to help so we started the #lettersoflove initiative. We created a wall that anyone can write on, and whose content will be shared with hospitals. A couple of days after we launched #lettersoflove, one of the learners from the Changemakers programme, Gerard, came up with something ingenious. An avid programmer, Gerard made a Telegram bot capable of receiving and storing messages. The bot then automatically converts the messages to PDF, and sends the letter to seniors and hospitals in need. What’s more, he has been able to apply this process of PDF conversion to messages that appear on the wall we created.
Although it’s still in beta, here is a video illustrating how the Telegram bot works:
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