“The most terrible poverty is loneliness and the feeling of being unloved.” We’ve all had grandparents that we don’t see as often as we should, but we would never want them to feel unloved. We are able to visit them occasionally, see them face-to-face, hear their stories, and simply hold their hands. Something so basic that 11.3 million seniors are not able to do, becoming lonely in old age and suffering from social isolation. All too often this leads to a host of mental as well as physical debilitations such as depression, anxiety, and even an increased risk of dementia.

What it does

The root of the problem stems from a lack of intimate and consistent interactions amongst the elderly and their surrounding communities. and that’s where we come in. Our project, Common Roots, is a simple website application that will automatically matches enthusiastic volunteers with our senior citizens in need of social and fulfilling interactions. Volunteers fill out some basic information about what times they are available and where they are located. With that, they are placed in a local affiliate group headed by a “leader” from whom they communicate with. They can then reach out and visit assigned residents with a simple calendar schedule. Healthcare providers thus have access to dozens of volunteer groups throughout the community willing to participate with their residents. They will be the ones submitting the information for their residents and uploading vital health concerns. Even though the process is automated, they also have the ability to match volunteer-resident pairs based on similar interests or hobbies. Finally as the end user here, the senior citizens have access to a number of volunteers in the community to meet and accept visitors. To ensure quality of care, the residents have the option of providing feedback on volunteers’ visit through a 5-star rating system.

How I built it

We built it using javascript, php, html5, jquery, and json.

Challenges I ran into

We were unsure how to effectively integrate the the APIs given to us from Mana Health and athenahealth. Nor did we know how to program using php to access it. But with some heavy googling we were able to figure it out.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

We figured out how to utilize APIs and stay up for 24 hours

What I learned

I learned a lot about social isolation and its effects on the elderly community. We also learned how to code using a new language.

What's next for Common Roots

Common Roots found this project to be interesting and fulfilling. Helping to mitigate the effects of this issue and have a profound impact on this community made us consider continuing on with this project and see it through till the end.

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