When one contemplates the term “health crisis,” images from the 1995 medical disaster movie Outbreak come to mind. Hazmat suits and quarantined children in terrifying plastic rooms. But the term is so much more than just Hollywood scare tactics. AlyceMates is working on eradicating a different health crisis entirely: that of senior isolation. The company began when Jessica Yum recognized that senior isolation and loneliness were reaching epidemic proportions, with more and more seniors living alone at home. She began to realize that, to be healthy, seniors needed more than just scheduled time with a caregiver or the occasional visitor, and AlyceMates was born.
“The company evolved from our home-care agency,” Jessica says, “We bring seniors out of isolation through check-ins, exclusive social outings, and the most important part, their AlyceMate roommate.” They want to create a unique program to alleviate the dangers of isolation for seniors who couldn’t afford continuous home-care, which can cost up to $35/hour. However, not having a caregiver and being isolated put seniors at great risk. Numerous studies have confirmed that isolation is more dangerous than excessive drinking, obesity, or even smoking! It can also increase a senior’s mortality rate by up to 40%!
By matching college students, recent graduates, and young adults with seniors as roommates, they could in fact, tackle two problems at once: senior isolation and the student debt and housing crisis plaguing our youth. Seniors would no longer have to live alone; they could be mentors, share their stories and dispense wisdom. Students could alleviate the pressure on their pocketbooks and help others stay current and connected.
But how exactly are students and seniors matched up?
“We visit a senior’s home and just try to get to know them first,” says Jessica. “Sometimes, it’s the first time all week that a senior has spoken to a person! Participating seniors are typically in good health, have an extra room, live in a safe neighborhood, and are sociable. We then interview several young people to determine which individual would be the best AlyceMate for the senior in terms of maturity, personality, interests, etc. - a process which can take several weeks.”
Looking for candidates who have a good sense of community, want to give back, and are comfortable with seniors is no small task. If they pass the preliminary round of interviews, AlyceMates then completes a thorough background check, reference check, and credit check. The best candidates get to meet with the senior in person to ensure the chemistry is there. “We’re looking for big-hearted candidates who truly want to be part of the program for the right reasons.”
With studies showing that seniors who live communally can add 10-15 years to their lives, it’s no wonder that a company like AlyceMates is thriving.
“If you are over 50 and have a spare bedroom, you can become a senior host. It’s as easy as that,” says Jessica. “Earn extra income, alleviate alone time, mentor a young person, make a life-long friend. The benefits are endless. Seniors can earn up to $500 a month through the program.” No hazmat suits, plastic-sheeted quarantine rooms, or reruns of Outbreak required.
Connect with Jessica and ALYCEMates by calling (949) 339-7150 or visit www.ALYCEMATES.com