AUSTIN (KXAN) – A local business started a project called Text Your Mom – a free service that reminds you daily to message your parents, even providing prompt suggestions.
WayWiser is a startup in Austin that provides a service to coordinate the care and financial safety of an aging loved one. The elderly population often is targeted in phishing attempts; AARP estimates this population loses approximately $3 billion every year to these scams.
Aging is obviously on the mind of the employees at WayWiser. When one of their moms, who lives in California, started showing signs of cognitive decline, a caregiver support group leader told him how crucial it is to keep an isolated, aging parent socially connected.
“One of the answers she gave, ‘you should really just make sure you send a text message to her every day’,” Benjamin Weiss of WayWiser said. “It’s really important.”
And it is really important for older folks to feel socially connected. The Center of Disease Control reports that social isolation is associated with around a 50% percent increased risk of dementia. It also increases your risk of heart disease, stroke, depression, anxiety and suicide.
The team at WayWiser recognized that people don’t want to ignore their parents or older relatives, but that life gets in the way and communication drops as a result. They said this service is a simple solution to ensure those critical people in our lives stay a top priority.
“If you just send a text that says, ‘hey mom, thinking about you.’ or ‘hey mom, did you see Wheel of Fortune last night?’… It’s just something to make her feel more connected [and] kind of sparks those synapses,” Weiss said.
“We were like, ‘why don’t we just build something that just sends you a reminder if you sign up?’ Because we’re all busy? We forget,” he continued.
Lynn Greenbelt is a full-time caregiver for her husband and runs a support group for other caregivers who typically care for older folks called Caregiver Cafe. She agreed that sending messages to loved ones can help them feel more connected.
“Isolation is, in my opinion, just as detrimental at any age, to your health, emotional (and) physical,” Greenbelt said.
“We need to stay social. We are social creatures,” she continued.