Key Takeaways:

By addressing the social determinants of health people, organizations, and governments can reduce the cost of health care. Learn how GetSetUp is making this possible.

The social determinants of health (SDOH) are the conditions in which people are born, live, learn, work, play, and age that affect a wide-range of health and quality-of-life outcomes. They are notoriously unevenly, and unfairly, distributed for huge cohorts of society. Though that doesn’t mean they can’t be influenced by our behaviors and the environments we choose for ourselves.

They are generally grouped into five categories: 

The World Health Organization’s research shows that social determinants of health can be more important than health care or lifestyle choices and may account for as much as 30-55% of a person’s health outcomes. This means people, governments, and companies must pay attention to these broader factors in order to address health needs as we age. 

Combined all these factors contribute to one of the leading causes of decline in older adults - social isolation and loneliness. By addressing all of the social determinants of health people can help to reduce the negative health impacts that loneliness can cause.

Cutting healthcare costs by addressing loneliness

One of the key social determinants of health is social and community context. Over 30% of the population is expected to be 60+ by 2030 and already ¼ of US adults 65+ are considered socially isolated. Social isolation doesn’t just lead to loneliness. It “can wreak havoc on an individual’s physical, mental and cognitive health,” according to Louise C. Hawkley’s research on loneliness. Perceived social isolation has been linked with health problems like depression, poor sleep, impaired executive function, accelerated cognitive decline, poor cardiovascular function, and impaired immunity.

This is particularly devastating for older adults. Many of them find themselves with diminishing social circles as they retire, lose partners, or move away from family and friends. A 2019 study “analyzed data from more than 580,000 adults and found that social isolation increases the risk of premature death from every cause for every race.” By creating communities people and organizations can address the social and community context. This is one measure to help not only reduce premature death but also increase health and happiness. Plus social isolation doesn’t just affect the person who is alone. It also costs Medicare approximately $6.7 billion annually. By addressing loneliness these billions could be used for other forms of care.

To improve aging and health we must address all the social determinants of health in a holistic manner, not one at a time out of context. Many organizations look to address some of these factors but few address them all. Combining all of them means that you can really solve greater social problems and help people to stay healthier.

How GetSetUp Addresses the Social Determinants of Health

No two people's situations with health are created equal. There are many factors that affect one’s health outside of genetics. As global healthcare organizations and institutions look to address the impacts of these non-genetic factors on healthcare, some companies are taking the lead in addressing them already. GetSetUp is proud to be one of these companies pushing the industry forward with these considerations! 

We are on a mission to help over-55s to learn new skills, connect with others and unlock new life experiences. We are striving to improve aging for older adults around the world, in part by addressing the social determinants of health. Through a unique, customized digital space made for older adults, we are managing to address all five of the social determinants of health.

1. Economic Stability - We offer reskilling classes to help create economic stability for our users. These help build confidence and empower learners to excel at the tools needed in the working world.  We are doing our part to combat ageism as over half of the company’s employees are over 50 years of age. Plus tech and job skills classes support older adults to find local opportunities, or sell their skills and services, using modern technology. 

According to a learner survey, 68% of older adults on GetSetUp learned a skill they could use for a job, their own business, or volunteer work.

2. Education Access and Quality- We provide a one-stop-shop for older adults to learn skills. Bite-size classes taught by older adult experts offer chances to ask questions live. Customized, high-quality, lifelong learning for older adults allows them to gain the confidence they need to thrive. Plus learners go on to create and share their skills with others.

According to a learner survey, 94% of older adults on GetSetUp had access to learning opportunities they wouldn’t normally have access to.

3. Health Care Access and Quality- We offer classes on fitness, health, and well-being. Classes help learners understand how to manage aging ailments such as diabetes, stroke, and heart conditions. Learners have started eating healthier and lost weight thanks to classes on the platform. Learners cite improved balance, improved mood, and overall improved health thanks to access to the platform.

According to a learner survey, 61% of older adults on GetSetUp felt healthier with GetSetUp and 64% felt more active with GetSetUp.

4. Neighborhood and Built Environment- We provide a safe virtual community. The community is accessible to those with mobility issues, in rural locations, or who have safety concerns. We offer a growing global neighborhood for learners to explore the world with global peers. Our virtual community expands learners’ environment from their same four walls.

According to a learner survey, 95% of older adults on GetSetUp feel GetSetUp is a safe virtual environment and 91% find like-minded people in this environment.

5. Social and Community Context - As people age generally their social circles tend to decrease. This can lead to social isolation and overall health decline. GetSetUp is helping to prevent that by connecting like-minded individuals through positive learning. We provide a positive social environment for learners to grow and develop with people similar to them. Friends have reconnected on our site after years and others are making new friends through the platform. 

According to a learner survey, 67% of older adults on GetSetUp felt more socially connected and 37% have met new friends on GetSetUp.

Our business is truly looking at improving the holistic health of an underserved market of older adults. We envision a world where every older adult has access to the critical elements of health, and where we are all empowered to realize our own health destinies.

May 18, 2022
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Liz Miller

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