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An app that connects students to seniors in a bid to improve elder care has secured $3.4 million in seed funding.
Mon Ami, set up by Madeline Dangerfield-Cha and Joy Zhang, was started when the MBA students at Stanford University found a mutual interest in senior issues.
Cowboy Ventures and Freestyle Ventures led the funding, with participation from Felicis Ventures, Maverick Ventures, and private investor Bruce Dunlevie.
Dangerfield-Cha told MobiHealthNews: “My grandmother is my best friend, so hanging out with older people and being a companion has come really naturally to both of us, and we were thinking of ways to alleviate the stress, pain, and guilt that we were hearing from people with loved ones especially dealing with dementia.”
The digital platform creates connections between college students and isolated seniors or seniors living with dementia.
Students apply to become a companion through the app; a team vets their application before making a pairing based on interests and language.
As the population ages and smart technology shakes up senior living, the funding couldn’t have arrived at a better time. More than 22% of people in the US say they often or always feel lonely, feel that they lack companionship, feel left out, or feel isolated from others, according to an international study conducted by KFF.
Dangerfield-Cha added: “For college students, they are living alone and away from families and missing grandparents and caring experience. This can also be part of professional development if they are pre-med, pre-social work.”
The student receives $20 an hour, and the caregiver pays $25 for the visit.
Mon Ami plans to spend the funding on further developing the platform and expanding its reach, as the app currently just serves California.
The cost of quality care in the USA was predicted to increase by 15% between 2018 and 2003 as patients get older and require more care, so apps like Mon Ami are seen as a step in the right direction to take the pressure off healthcare services as well as family members.
Papa, a similar service, can help senior citizens with transportation, household chores, technology lessons and create new companionship. It raised $2.4 million in funding last year.
A study at the University of South California Center for Body Computing has also found that improved access to rideshares like Lyft could help older adults get to medical appointments, reduce social isolation, and improve health.
Co-founder Joy Zhang said, “There is so much worry, fear, and feelings of immense responsibility that fall on the shoulders of families and individuals caring for aging parents or loved ones. But more than anything, there is a feeling of wanting to do what is best.”
“There are a myriad of ways to ensure physical safety and care for aging loved ones, but what’s hardest to provide is everything that makes us human: joy, connection, meaning and enrichment. That’s what Mon Ami does best.”