The CDC defines social determinants of health (SDOH) as conditions in the places where people live, learn, work, and play that affect a wide range of health and quality-of life-risks and outcomes.
SDOH has become a popular buzzword in the last decade or two, and industry professionals often point out that one’s zip code frequently has a bigger impact on their health than their genetic make-up. It might seem unbelievable, but things like safe housing, food security, and accessible public transportation make a real difference in day-to-day health and wellness.
There are five main domains of SDOH, including economic stability, education access and quality, health care access and quality, neighborhood and built environment, and social and community context. Let's break down each category to better understand the aspects of our lives that may have a surprising effect on how we feel day in and day out.
Steady employment and fair wages are critical to helping families afford basic necessities like food, housing and healthcare. Programs that help people find and keep jobs and policies to support low-income housing and food security ultimately lead to healthier communities.
Education Access and Quality
It probably doesn’t surprise you to hear that people with higher levels of education are more likely to be healthy and live longer. But did you know that the stress of living in poverty can actually impact the development of a child’s brain?
Health Care Access and Quality
The healthcare system in the US is incredibly complex and costly. Roughly 10% of the population doesn’t have health insurance, premiums and medication costs are sky-high, and many people don’t have access to regular screenings or primary care appointments to catch issues before they develop into major challenges. Programs to educate and encourage preventive care, offer transportation to medical appointments, and provide easier access to health records are all ways to improve health outcomes.
Neighborhood and Built Environment
As previously mentioned, zip code is important. Those that live in violent, impoverished, polluted areas are more likely to develop chronic conditions, mental health issues, substance abuse, and more. There are so many ways that governments can help support these communities - like testing water and air to ensure safe drinking and breathing, investing in bike lanes and sidewalks to encourage more physical activity and less pollution from vehicles, and prohibiting smoking in various locations to limit second hand smoke (to name a few examples).
Social and Community Context
The final category is near and dear to our heart. Social engagement and developing meaningful relationships are a significant part of living a healthy lifestyle. Loneliness leads to many serious health outcomes, and is even linked to premature death. Whether people are developing relationships where they live, work, learn, or play, positive social connection is of the utmost importance.
Social determinants of health have become a major topic of conversation, research, and innovation. There are all sorts of programs, services, and products that are addressing various elements of the SDOH domains outlined above - one of which is, of course, ElliQ!
First and foremost, ElliQ was designed to strengthen social connections and help older adults stay engaged - mentally and physically, but also engaged with their loved ones and communities. This is why the final domain (social and community context) is so special for the ElliQ team.
That said, ElliQ can help with social determinants beyond social connection as well. Access to educational material keeps the brain active and healthy, and ElliQ is a pro at helping older adults get the help they need from services and programs in their area. Whether it’s coordinate transportation or informing seniors about meal delivery programs, ElliQ is a helpful sidekick to have in the home.
Finally, ElliQ has a wide breadth of health and wellness features. Even if an individual doesn’t have insurance or has difficulty getting to a doctor regularly, features like pain monitoring, self-reported health measurements, medication reminders, daily check-ins, and more can help caregivers, families, and loved ones maintain peace of mind - or jump in right when a condition changes, before it evolved into a bigger issue.
If you or someone you know could benefit from ElliQ, visit elliq.com for more information.