Kian Saneii is the CEO of Independa, Inc., providing high tech, yet high touch, solutions for remote engagement and care.
Independa helps people not only "age in place", but instead "thrive in place". To start, what inspired you to start Independa? How much has it changed, since you first began?
I experienced firsthand the difficulties and related anguish of providing care to an elderly loved one, and set out to create an offering that would allow caregivers to "be there" regardless of their physical distance. The core mission to make it possible to enable better care from afar has remained the same, delivering peace of mind to caregivers, and reducing costs and anguish for caregivers and care recipients alike.
Can you talk a bit about the difference of merely "aging in place" and "thriving in place"? How does Independa help individuals thrive, and why is that important?
The key difference is in empowerment. Many older adults are already aging in place: staying home, watching TV, keeping to themselves - all this when they would much rather be social and active, spending time with their family and friends. Thriving in place means to stay engaged, connected, and active wherever you currently live - continuing to live your life to the absolute fullest.
One of Independa's most powerful features is simplified video chat, allowing people who to visit virtually or attend important events like weddings or birthday parties. What kind of impact can that make on someone's life and even health? What are some particularly moving stories you've heard of people connecting via Independa, if any?
Video chat opens the world. Suddenly, you're not resigned to missing out on Thanksgiving dinner or a friend's birthday, traveling adventures or special events - video chat can give you a front row seat at a baseball game or friend's anniversary party, and everything in between. You go from hearing about your loved ones lives secondhand to being able to stay engaged, regardless of the location or distance. Especially when it comes to being more present in your grandchildren's lives, this is a huge value. Whether it's reading bedtime stories, providing help with homework or watching the big game together, video chat enables so many more special connections to happen.
Did you know that the #1 issue for aging adults isn't falls, or medication management, but social isolation? The resulting potential depression and loneliness often leads to a slippery slope of additional care, costs and complications, starting with self neglect, then medication neglect, and leading to recidivism into the system, further adding to costs and anguish. Video leverages a solution that older adults are already familiar with and currently using - the TV - allowing for social engagement in ways that simply wasn't possible before. Suddenly Mom doesn't have to be alone at Thanksgiving, or Grandpa is spending more time with his grandchildren. Our loved ones stay connected, involved, engaged - and best of all, there's nothing new to learn. As long as you can use a remote control, you can use the video product by Independa.
We're always honored and energized to hear moving stories from people who use video tools to connect with their loved ones. One of the most emotional was a story about Lillian, who broke her hip a week before her grandson's wedding. As you can imagine, it was a devastating blow: she'd been excited for and looking forward to her grandson's wedding for quite some time, but now she couldn't attend his special day since she had to stay at a short-term rehab to recover from her injury. Fortunately, Lillian's rehab facility is an Independa customer, and so she was able to video chat and attend virtually. I'll never forget the pure joy she felt, as our customer's staff shared with me: "I'm going to my grandson's wedding!" she proudly told the staff as she closed the door to her room. "Make sure you don't interrupt me over the next two hours!" Lillian had gone in her room and 'seated' herself in the front row for the ceremony, in her bed and right in front of her in-room TV.
These are the stories that inspire us, that drive us forward.
Have there been any new innovations since you started the company that you're excited about?
What's wonderful is how so many different organizations are coming together to create a more accessible, engaging world for older adults. As you know, Google is currently developing self-driving cars - imagine how an innovation like that can return total mobile freedom for our aging loved ones, people who may no longer be able to drive. Enabling independence is huge, and Google's self-driving cars seems like it will do just that for our older population. Same with advances in VR (Virtual Reality) and AR (Augmented Reality). Imagine the full immersion into other environments, even virtual travel, when mobility may be a growing challenge. Some of these items are futuristic, but I believe we're talking about the near future, and not the distant future, and their impact will be positive and compelling.
You wrote a blog post called 4 Free Low Cost Ideas To Improve Care For Your Aging Parents, where you talk about how important it is to get grandparents and grandchildren together. While it's nice to be able to see and talk to each other, why is it also important to spend time in person?
Spending time together - especially in the first early years of a grandchild's life - is the key foundation for a strong relationship later in life. For families who may live far apart or struggle to find time to get together amidst the chaos of life, spending time together through video chat better fosters that important relationship between grandparent and grandchild, versus the use of a telephone alone. For the record, though, whenever possible, time spent together is valuable because it taps into more of your stronger senses - like the smell of grandma's perfume or the touch of grandpa's hand on your shoulder. That said, when you're not able to be together, video chat gives you a more enriching experience of being with the person as you watch their eyes crinkle as they smile!
Want to learn more about thriving in place with the help of in-home care? Contact us today!