Student uses tech to bridge gap between isolating seniors and doctors

A new organization is making things a little easier for isolating seniors. Lia Rubel is an 18-year-old student…
connecting with seniors who need care

A new organization is making things a little easier for isolating seniors.

Lia Rubel is an 18-year-old student at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. She was anticipating a summer of internships until the outbreak of COVID-19:

After receiving countless emails about canceled internships, I had just about concluded that I would be spending my summer twiddling my thumbs.

Lia Rubel

But she soon heard about TeleHealth Access for Seniors, and her plans changed.

In March, a group of Yale University students formed a program called TeleHealth Access for Seniors. It bridges the gap between seniors who need medical care and doctors who cannot see them in person. The program uses tablets or smartphones to bridge this gap, but as Rubel says, a device in the hands of one of these seniors is “more than just a device”:

It’s a vital connectivity tool and it could save someone’s life. It just hurt my heart that they don’t have that privilege and they can’t connect to friends and families. They can’t even connect to their doctors.

Lia Rubel

Rubel, whose hometown is Barre, Vermont, joined TeleHealth Access for Seniors as the lead in her state of Vermont.

Vermont has a particularly high percentage of seniors in its population: 19%. It also has a fair percentage of residents without broadband but with cell service: 10%.

Beyond Vermont, TeleHealth Access for Seniors is now in an additional 25 states. Upwards of 50 volunteers work together to get devices—1,500 of them so far—in the hands of seniors who need them. Altogether, the organization has raised about $63,000.

Rubel herself has raised $800 and cumulated 50 devices.

She says that they also set the devices up with wellness apps and show the patients FaceTime so they can connect with family if they remain isolated. So, “it’s really important for mental health,” she says.

The statistics prove her right: feelings of loneliness increase mortality rate by 26%.

Rubel mentions one silver lining to the pandemic, noting that it “has opened our eyes to how important it is to have digital tools and the importance of equipping our seniors with these devices.”

Article source: Good News Network

Featured image source: Lia Rubel

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