What is linkAges?
linkAges is a new, community-based, multigenerational network designed to engage and activate existing resources within communities to improve the health and wellbeing of seniors and family caregivers.
We know that quality of life and social connections are key determinants of health. For example, seniors who are lonely have a 45% increased mortality rate at 6 years compared to seniors who are not lonely. They have twice the rate of loss of ability to perform normal activities of daily living, which contributes to higher institutional care rates. While it is widely recognized that medical interventions prevent only 10% of premature death, social determinants, including loneliness and isolation, are ignored or not effectively addressed by the current care model.
In an unprecedented commitment by a large health system, linkAges partners the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, one of the region’s largest providers of primary and specialty care, with local nonprofits, neighborhood associations, faith-based organizations, and businesses to offer a community-based response to address non-medical determinants of health and support aging in place.
The linkAges system has the following components:
The linkAges TimeBank is one component of the emerging linkAges system and is being used as a mechanism to connect neighbors and community members across all ages. Members of the linkAges TimeBank, including seniors and family caregivers, can address personal needs through exchanges with other members that focus on their interests and skills and explore new possibilities for meaningful engagement in their communities. In the TimeBank, everyone’s time and services are valued equally.
How can we spot meaningful shifts in the social and physical health of seniors before it’s too late? linkAges Connect attempts to do this by utilizing passive signals in the home (such as utilities/water usage patterns) to prevent acute care incidents and support well-being by detecting indicators that something might be wrong so that an appropriate responder/caregiver can receive a timely alert.
This is a crowd-sourced resource referral list that specifically addresses the needs and interests of seniors and family caregivers. linkAges List will include listings of community resources, services and businesses supported by reviews of personal user experiences.
A central component of the linkAges system, the Profile captures social wellbeing characteristics of individuals to personalize other system components so that users receive individually relevant system messages and services.
Why linkAges and Why now?
With Baby-Boomers now turning 65, America faces an unprecedented demographic shift that will force the health care industry to rethink how we address the needs of older adults. To effectively address the health of populations under the Affordable Care Act, the next-generation health system must reinvent itself as a community health partner, not just a sick-care delivery system. linkAges disrupts the traditional business model of fee-for-service sick care delivery and addresses those social determinants of health that are external to today’s health care delivery systems by creating a broad, community-based model to support successful aging in place.
PAMF’s David Druker Center for Health Systems Innovation launched the linkAges program and is deploying it in the community by engaging community members and individuals and organizations across diverse sectors who understand the importance of responding collectively to support aging in place. linkAges is designed to be scalable and readily replicated and adaptable to meet local needs and resources.
linkAges in the Community
Earlier this year, the linkAges pilot was formally initiated in the city of Mountain View, California, which was chosen because it is home to a population of diverse ethnicities and incomes, active partner agencies, a supportive City Council, strong neighborhoods and faith-based communities, and a significant senior population. The goal of linkAges is to have a toolkit available for replication and adoption by diverse organizations that includes the linkAges platform, evaluation findings, and a community engagement model.
Scalable impact is key to the vision for linkAges as a system that will effectively support aging in place through cross-sector partnerships and community activation. It is our hope that this project will serve as a cost-effective solution to fulfilling the growing need for support systems that can empower vulnerable seniors to age in place with enhanced health, independence, and quality of life.