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  • Writer's pictureTreaty Oak Strategies

Older Americans Month: The Impact of Social Isolation on HealthCare Outcomes and Costs

Updated: Oct 25, 2023

May is Older Americans Month (est. 1963) which prompts the conversation – what can we do to address social isolation for older Americans and other major impacts they face daily that contribute to their overall wellbeing? Envoy America and Treaty Oak Strategies offer you the following thoughts for consideration.

As Texans age, they often experience changes in their social networks and face various challenges that limit their ability to engage in meaningful social interactions. This isolation can significantly impact their physical and mental health, and exacerbate existing health conditions, which increases the risk of developing new chronic conditions.

In a recent report the U.S. Surgeon General, Vivek H. Murthy, M.D., M.B.A, estimates that lacking social connections can increase the risk of premature death to levels comparable to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Surgeon General Murthy also recently released an advisory with the following findings:

  • Social connection significantly improves the health and well-being of all individuals by reducing the risk of premature mortality.

  • Poor social relationships, social isolation, and loneliness can increase the risk of heart disease and risk of stroke.

  • Chronic loneliness and social isolation can increase the risk of developing dementia by approximately 50%.

  • Loneliness and poor social support have been found to significantly contribute to the development and severity of illnesses after exposure to viruses.

In addition to cognitive decline and an increased risk of dementia, if someone is chronically lonely or socially isolated, loneliness is strongly associated with an elevated risk of depression and anxiety disorders in older people, which may turn some individuals towards substance abuse as a coping mechanism or the worst-case scenario, suicide.

There are ways to ensure older people can engage in social activities which promote physical activity, encourage healthy behaviors, and provide emotional support, all of which contribute to improved overall well-being. The most impactful way is providing companionship and access to transportation to engage in the community. Not having access to go places that provide social encounters leads to social disengagement plus mental and physical deterioration. Participating in activities and engaging with others, even if it’s a mere trip to the grocery store, can have profound positive results to one’s overall health.

Envoy America, based in Scottsdale Arizona, is embracing the issue of accessible transportation for older people and developed a unique solution that couples companionship with transportation. In 2015 the founders of Envoy America recognized a hole within the transportation space for older adults as they witnessed their own parents declining mental and physical health because of the effects from social isolation.

Envoy America discovered that pairing a companion with the accessible transportation service allows their clients to stay independent, healthy, and socially active. The companion can take the client to the grocery store or run other errands, attend a social gathering with friends, religious events, and assist with small needs in the home like putting groceries away. The companion becomes an important part of the client’s life which provides additional benefits.

Envoy America discovered that pairing a companion with the accessible transportation service allows their clients to stay independent, healthy, and socially active.

Health plans can greatly benefit from this unique solution for the accessible transportation needs of their members. Envoy America can assist health plans with the continuity of care for their members by:

  • Ensuring attendance to appointments.

  • Lowered hospital readmission rates.

  • Maintained membership with the current health plan.

  • Increase/maintain health plan Star rating and CAHPS scores.

  • Reduced overall costs.

Envoy America consistently has a 99.3% on time performance record for their clients and a 90%+ net promotor score thus creating clients for life.

Currently, Envoy America is in 28 states with plans of expanding into 4 more by the end of year. They offer one-of-a-kind transportation and companion services to their clients while addressing the non-medical drivers of health and ultimately ensuring their clients remain healthy and socially engaged.

To contact Envoy America about services, please call 888-375-5558.


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