By ASU Thrive Magazine
Even before the pandemic, loneliness was a growing problem among seniors. It has worsened, with more than half of adults ages 50 to 80 reporting feeling isolated, according to a June 2020 University of Michigan National Poll on Healthy Aging.
Years ago after witnessing a loved one’s struggle, Shruti Gurudanti sought ways to address social isolation. In 2018, she co-founded televëda with Mayank Mishra. Soon after, at a community networking event, Mishra met Kristin Slice, the senior program manager for Peoria Forward, an Edson E+I Institute program in partnership with the city of Peoria for community members. The support helped the co-founders further develop televëda, which acts like a virtual senior community center and addresses senior isolation using easy-to-use technology, including live interactive classes and games, as well as streaming events. Participants can see the instructor, talk to other participants and compete. Examples include multiplayer bingo, interactive fitness classes, live music from the Chandler Symphony Orchestra and other musicians, and tailored interactive education classes. All of this helps older adults build and maintain friendships and feel more engaged and satisfied with life.
Since its founding, televëda has created virtual senior communities that have helped more than 1,500 users, including seniors in nursing homes, assisted living facilities and their homes.
Recently, Gurudanti heard from a widower who uses the platform to socialize. “He keeps coming back to these classes. What’s beautiful is that he doesn’t feel like he’s coming to a support group. For me, that’s a success,” Gurudanti said.
In May 2020, at the Greater Phoenix Tech Challenge, the company won a $50,000 grant from the Pakis Center for Business Philanthropy at the Arizona Community Foundation. Televëda will use the funds to expand from its current seven employees.
“Our goal is to be a widespread virtual recreation center to reduce social isolation, and so people don’t have to worry about feeling lonely again,” Gurudanti said.