Olera Aims To Modernize Eldercare for Caregivers Through Its Innovative Platform

Updated: Apr 6

Are you equipped to take care of an elder loved one on top of your daily obligations? Like most people, probably not; posing a scary reality that over 30 million Americans currently navigate.

 
From left to right: Tokunbo "TJ" Falohun; Logan DuBose; Jesse Phipps

All innovations are created to enhance the ongoing lives of us all. The GPS was manufactured to provide a faster way to get to work. Third-party delivery services were created as a medium to painlessly receive a coveted cup of coffee. Television streaming services exist so people can watch whatever show or movie they want at a given time.


While there are a plethora of innovations and products focused on enhancing our daily lives, what about ones that help prepare for the end? That topic is a bit taboo, however. Given the state of society, who wants to talk about aging and their elder-driven plans?


Perhaps it’s time we do.


Three Texas A&M University students, Tokunbo “TJ” Falohun, Logan DuBose, and Jesse Phipps, have set out to start these discussions by creating a platform that connects family caregivers to eldercare professionals.


Born from Texas A&M’s student-led Sling Health, Olera provides an avenue for caregivers and those with elder loves ones to plan and prepare for potential scenarios where they may have to step up to care for a loved one.

As only one in three adults in the US has an advance directive for their end-of-life medical instructions, Olera is poised to usher in a new evolution of eldercare.


The Need for Modernized Elder Care Technologies


There is an estimated 34.2 million Americans who either provide or have provided unpaid care to an adult aged 50 or older in the past year. Of these caregivers that are also employed, 56% of them work full-time.


Time commitments aside, the median cost of in-home care with the help of a home health aid in 2020 was $54,912. In most instances, those who care full or part-time for a family member do not have the funds to acquire an at-home assistant, leaving all tasks to the caregiver.


“Say you have a mother who is in her 80s and shows signs of dementia. Because of this, you have to step up and care for her, but you also have your own family along with a full-time job,” Falohun said. “However, you now have another full-time job of caring for your elder loved one. This can create a lot of stress and is also extremely difficult to navigate.”


For someone who has little to no medical experience and is now a caregiver, where do they go to find accurate and helpful information? Sure, Google is great and caregiver.org helps immensely, but where can the average person go to connect with professionals to ask questions and find the right medicine(s) or resources?


Other than your doctor’s office, that medium does not exist. The problem Olera will solve is the stress, confusion, and frustration associated with the current state of eldercare.

“We are reducing the stress by connecting individuals in these situations to the professionals that are right for their needs. We're also providing a roadmap that they can use to navigate their situation, and answer questions they might have like ‘which type of health insurance would cover long-term care? Is it best for your loved one to stay in their home or go to an elder care facility? What type of elder care professionals can guide you with that?’”


How Olera Solves the Problem


Olera provides a pathway to solving the problem. Similar to raising a child, caring for an elder loved one does not have a one-size-fits-all approach. Olera and its platform provide a ‘roadmap’ for dealing with common issues and questions caregivers face.


“The eldercare space has gotten left behind and there isn't a modern, centralized way to map out the eldercare ecosystem and easily identify what kind of care is right for each individual,” Falohun said. “So, what we're building is that platform. We're building a platform for family caregivers of elder individuals in need of care, that helps them find the right elder care professionals for their needs and for their families.”


By reducing the friction involved with finding the right help, Falohun and his team can connect two groups that generally do not have effective ways of communicating in a user-friendly and efficient manner.


The Path for Olera


Recently, Olera was awarded a $2.3 million Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Institute on Aging. The award not only advances Olera from the resources it provides but validates the idea Falohun and Olera are bringing to the eldercare space.


By working with eldercare and healthcare experts, Olera filters content and information to ensure it's credible and timely. Through the utilization of the SBIR grant and the collaboration among industry experts, Falohun and his team can focus on enhancing the current product by incorporating existing technologies to meet the needs of each user.


“We're bringing a lot of the innovations that exist in other fields into the elder care space,” Falohun said. “What we're doing here is we are beginning with a comprehensive database of the eldercare ecosystem and using a personalization algorithm that takes in user input to provide curated recommendations based on the needs and situation of the caregiver and care receiver, and we're building a feedback loop that would enable us to make the recommendations better over time.”


Falohun doesn’t see why Olera’s platform should stop with eldercare. Olera can become a platform that assists people with disabilities and the challenges that arise from coordinating their care or can even evolve into a resource that directly helps care providers through products and such.


“We see ourselves delivering a pipeline of different innovations in the healthcare space [and] and in the eldercare space that really targets those sectors that are neglected,” Falohun said. “We want to use technology to assist in a way that's humane [and] in a way that makes life better.”



 

Looking for more information?

Follow along with Olera on its website for updates and to stay up-to-date with its platform that looks to modernize eldercare.