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 the Hollywood scare tactics that have been built up around it. Alycemates, a yearling business, is working on eradicating a different health crisis entirely: that of isolation. ALYCEMates began when Jessica Yum (co-founder of its parent company, ALYCECare) recognized early on that senior isolation and loneliness were reaching epidemic proportions, with increasing numbers living alone at home, instead of in a vibrant, thriving family community, or assisted living facility. She began to realize that the need for companionship was more than just a simple relationship with a caregiver, or a neighbor next door, and Alycemates was born.
There is not a single business that does what Alycemates does. Jessica and her team are excited to offer the community ALYCEMates has built to seniors in the program, “which has evolved greatly from ALYCECare, our home care agency. We bring seniors out of isolation through check-ins, exclusive social outings, and of course, the most important part: their ALYCEMate roomate.” They wanted to create a unique program to alleviate the dangers of isolation without having to throw money at the problem. Home care often costs as much as $25/hour, which, for most folks living on their own at a more advanced age, is a steep going rate. Many individuals didn’t need round the clock care, and wouldn’t pay for it, putting themselves at risk then of falling off the social wagon, only to put them at higher risk of dying earlier. 45% higher, in fact. A staggering statistic, given that according to a 2010 study, that’s 15% more at risk than from excessive drinking, and 25% higher than obesity. 40% higher than losing years from air pollution.
By matching college students, recent graduates, and young adults with seniors as roommates, they could in fact, solve two problems. Senior isolation, and the student debt and housing crisis facing our youth. Seniors would no longer have to live alone: they could be mentors and teachers. Share their stories and dispense wisdom. Students could alleviate the pressure on their pocketbooks, and help others to stay connected. But how exactly are students and seniors matched up?
“We visit a senior’s home and sit with them for an extended period of time to determine if they are a good fit,” says Jessica. “Participating seniors are typically in good health, have an extra room, live in a safe neighborhood, and are sociable. We then interview several candidates for ALYCEMates to determine which individual would be the best fit for the senior in terms of maturity, stability, personality, interests, etc. - a process which can take several weeks.”
Looking for candidates who also have a good sense of community, want to give back, and are comfortable with seniors is no small feat. If they pass the preliminary round of checks, ALYCEMates balances out the equation with a thorough background check, reference check, and credit check. Select 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, and it’s usually very obvious when a candidate is primarily interested in saving money on rent.”
With studies showing that seniors living communally add as many as 10-15 years to their lives, it’s no wonder that a business like Alycemates found its way into existence.
“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