An innovative link for the elderly
By Verónica Meza
SAN JOSÉ, CA. It is easy to recognize the importance that the use of technology has seen in the last two decades. Messages and news are transferred in thousandths of seconds and communicating with a “click” in the world’s most remote places is now possible. Adults who made the transition from the traditional desktop computer to the smartphone had to train and adapt to ride the digital avalanche. Children and young people have been raised with a new technological consciousness that has been part of their life from the time they go to kindergarten. For them, the digital world is like any other school supply: it is common and indispensable. However, for older adults, access or adaptation to the virtual world has been, perhaps, almost impossible to explore.
Alianza Metropolitan News had the opportunity to interview Arthur Kajiyama, a 16-year-old student at Harker High School in San José, California. Through the contact he has had with the community of his local church, Arthur decided to innovate and create a digital link that can connect and help the elderly meet their basic needs. “I am part of the youth ministry of St. Thomas Church of Canterbury. During my participation in some church meetings, I observed as the coordinator of the ministry to which I belong, Mrs. Lucy; in addition to taking charge of youth activities, she handles all the aid coordination of the ministry for older adults. So, I thought of creating something to facilitate the coordinator’s hard work and support for seniors. Hence the idea of creating this web app that has the purpose of helping the elderly,” the young creator, Arthur, commented eloquently to us.
Arthur Kajiyama also stressed that it is essential to communicate and connect with the elderly during the global pandemic because they face total social isolation. Some of them have no family and are alone. “It is our job to include them within the community,” Kajiyama stressed. Arthur’s project began to crystallize when he was part of a project at St. Thomas Church in Canterbury called: Twelve seniors connect with volunteers to meet their basic needs and lessen their loneliness. This program impacted Arthur and inspired him to design an application to facilitate the program coordinator’s management, which implemented multiple work hours to contact volunteers.
With this idea in mind, Arthur contacted Stanford professors emeritus, Dr. Dolores Gallagher-Thompson, and Dr. Larry Thompson, who started an informational resource to support senior citizens and their families called Optimal Aging. Consequently, the project, Senior Link, created by Arthur Kajiyama, was created under Dolores and Larry’s support. “Senior Link is my contribution to reducing the social isolation experienced by older people,” said the young Kajiyama.
How does Senior Link work?
According to Arthur, founder of the application, Senior Link represents the elderly in a community of kindness. This platform facilitates the recruitment and training of volunteers and the process of matching volunteers with specific older adults, planning and organizing phone calls, and keeping a record of interactions between them. Senior Aid Program Coordinators can organize a group of volunteers in your community. They can connect with seniors and add them to the group.
The application, Senior Link, includes a resource portal that combines users’ interests, needs, and ability to access resources. For example, the Aging and Disability Resource Centers, the No Wrong Door system, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and other agencies, in addition to local activities, products, technology training, and video programming.
The scope of Senior Link
The Web App, Senior Link, can be used in the immediate community, or internationally. Arthur Kajiyama’s idea is that this application can connect many older adults who live alone. For this reason, Arthur is looking for community coordinators, volunteers, and new groups of older adults in the community that can benefit from this new app.
Arthur’s innovative project was one of the eight finalists, in the first phase, among 38 proposals in the national competition entitled, Mobilizing and Empowering the Nation and Technology to Combat Loneliness and Social Isolation under the supervision of the Administration for Community Living.
Arthur Kajiyama is a sophomore in high school; his favorite classes are physics and mathematics. He plays soccer four to five times a week in the new league called U17 NLS NEXT League. Arthur wants to be a physicist, an engineer, or study computer science. The support of Arthur’s parents, Claudia and Bruno Kajiyama, has been the key for him to continue innovating, planning and having more confidence to achieve his goals.
If you are interested in becoming one of the web app’s volunteer coordinators, you can register and include your data for free here: https://senior.link/app.
If you know older people who live alone and require emotional support or resources, you can send the information to this email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Without a doubt, our youth are beginning to build a promising future with an innovative present. We close this article with Arthur’s message to all young people who dream of contributing something to improve this society, “If you have the goal of helping the community, achieve it. It takes just one person and one idea to make a difference.”