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Nonprofit using technology to keep seniors engaged during COVID-19

April 7, 2020 | 12:09 am

Updated April 6, 2020 | 11:15 pm

With the COVID-19 pandemic indefinitely disbanding non-essential visitation in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, a relatively new nonprofit called Create Circles is using technology to keep seniors engaged and prevent social isolation.

Whether it’s working with seniors to create a memoir, a recipe book or simply just visiting with patients, volunteers with Create Circles are dedicated to helping older adults in long-term care facilities rediscover their purpose. The organization is currently reaching out to students that would be interested in volunteering while they are at home.

“The mission of Create Circles is to redefine the narrative around aging through an intergenerational approach in assisted living facilities, where older adults crave a way to remain connected to their communities, but often go days or even weeks without talking to someone for longer than a couple minutes,” said team member Satya Moolani.

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The somber reality for many seniors is they didn’t receive many visits even before the current limitations, Moolani said, adding that research shows 60 percent of long-term care residents have fewer than two visitors a year.

Things have gotten even harder for residents in long-term care facilities since COVID-19. New residents are restricted to the confinements of their rooms, while all communal dining and group activities have been canceled.

“If anything, these seniors are in the worst situation right now,” Moolani said. “And because of this, cognitive decay is faster than ever and mental health concerns are skyrocketing for these individuals.”

Moolani said Create Circles wants to ease some of the direct impacts felt by launching a virtual version of their program via Skype.

The Green River District Development Area (GRADD) has been sharing this resource with older adults, and Create Circles is working to start the program at Signature Healthcare as soon as possible.

More than 180 students from around the U.S. have already signed up to help Create Circles during the pandemic, including high school students from Daviess County, Owensboro Catholic and Apollo High Schools, as well as college students across the country.

Create Circles has also launched a Kickstarter project called Engage: A Workbook for Seniors to Strengthen their Minds.

“This is not telehealth. We are looking to address the social determinants of health, which drive 80 percent of health outcomes,” Moolani said. “We are effectively training and pairing students to help support our older adults in a way that makes them feel valued and validated.”

Those interested in volunteering for Create Circles can email Moolani at info@createcircles.org to get more information or visit the website at www.createcircles.org.

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The Owensboro Health coronavirus hotline is available 24/7 by calling 877-888-6647. Call the hotline before seeking in-person care. More information from OH can be found here.

For the latest information and data on COVID-19 in Kentucky visit kycovid19.ky.gov or dial the Kentucky state hotline at 800-722-5725.

For the latest health guidelines and resources from the CDC, visit their website here.

April 7, 2020 | 12:09 am

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