Benchmark’s Aging-Well Innovation Strategy Helping Startups Succeed
Company Commits to Alleviating Isolation for Seniors by Co-Sponsoring ‘Optimal Aging’ Challenge
Feelings of loneliness peak when people enter the years between their mid-50s and late 80s, according to a new study published in International Pyschogeriatrics. Defined as a discrepancy between the social relationships one wants and the social relationships they have, a persistent sense of isolation is now widely considered to be a leading health problem plaguing older Americans.
To help identify breakthrough solutions addressing social isolation and loneliness amongst those over 50, Benchmark, a human connection company and leading provider of senior living services in the Northeast, recently co-sponsored In Good Company: The 2018 Optimal Aging Challenge. In collaboration with MIT’s AgeLab, GE Healthcare and the Governor’s Council to Address Aging in Massachusetts, Benchmark sought to identify, award and foster innovative solutions.
Four startups, each of which is tackling isolation from a unique perspective, were chosen as challenge winners and selected to receive a $5,000 cash award at a recent celebration. Winners were Massachusetts-based Share Kitchens, FriendshipWorks and HelpAroundTown as well as California-based Care.coach. Nearly 150 people attended the recognition ceremony held at MIT with the winners being acknowledged by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker.
Challenge winner Share Kitchens strives to end loneliness during mealtime by transforming kitchens into communal cooking spaces, while FriendshipWorks and HelpAroundTown each seek to connect people through volunteerism and work opportunities. A technological solution, the Care.coach application uses avatars employing live, human interaction and compassion to provide 24/7 psychosocial support to seniors.
Benchmark founder, chairman and CEO, Tom Grape, recognized Care.coach for its pioneering solution. “The Care.coach approach is a thoughtful combination of digital technology and genuine human connection. Recruiting real people to be the voices of avatar health advocates from locations where caring for seniors is a cultural norm is a creative solution to the shortage of qualified caregivers in the United States. We look forward to seeing how Care.coach will be deployed broadly to alleviate isolation and improve the quality of life for more of our seniors.”
Benchmark is committed to fostering innovation in key areas that it has identified through its work with thousands of seniors and families in its 58 senior living communities across the Northeast. Over the last 22 years, the company has worked with various product specialists and thought leaders to pioneer solutions and strategies addressing everything from social isolation to ensuring medication is administered safely. Innovations like Smart Room-enabled apartments making it easier for residents to stay connected, special lighting with motion sensors and behavioral cues, and biometric safes – these are just some of the innovative solutions Benchmark has piloted or deployed to help its residents maintain independence and connectivity as individuals age.
“Elevating human connection is our mission because we see isolation as being the most detrimental to the health and well-being of seniors everywhere,” says Grape. “While living in caring communities like ours is one way to overcome isolation, we know that not everyone desires or is able to take advantage of community living. Regardless, Benchmark is committed to fostering the development of solutions that will make it possible for more people to age well and enjoy meaningful lives.”
Based in Waltham, Mass., Benchmark is a human connection company and leading provider of senior living services in the Northeast. Founded in 1997 by Tom Grape, Benchmark, with 6,300 associates and 58 communities, offers independent living, assisted living, Alzheimer’s care and skilled nursing in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont. The organization this year was selected by FORTUNE magazine for its inaugural 2018 Best Workplaces for Aging Services list, taking the number 16 spot on the list of top 40 aging services companies and ranking number three among companies with more than 40 communities. Benchmark is one of only six companies named to The Boston Globe Top Places to Work list every year of the 11 years it has been published. And it has been consistently recognized by Boston Business Journal, Hartford Courant and Hartford Business Journal as a top workplace, and by the Boston Business Journal, Providence Business News and Hartford Business Journal as one of the healthiest employers. Click here for more information.
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