On the Key Peninsula, where property dwellings are large and spread out and driveways are long, people can easily become isolated and disconnected from the outside world.
That concept became all too apparent earlier this year for 58-year-old Lori Deacon — at the time a real estate agent with an erratic schedule.
“I woke up one morning and I realized I had nothing scheduled for two weeks and wasn’t expected anywhere for two weeks,” said Deacon, who lives in her childhood home on a 4-acre farm in the historic Key Peninsula town of Home. “I realized that no one would know if something happened to me.”
She was especially concerned about her farm animals and who would care for them, should something happen to her. Rather than let her worry fester, Deacon gave it some careful thought and came up with a solution called Your Daily Hello.
Deacon has grounded her startup in an email marketing model. Much like a retailer might send out an email to customers inviting a response, Deacon, using Constant Contact, an email marketing company, generates an email to Your Daily Hello members at 9 a.m. that invites them to respond to say they’re okay.
“If they don’t click on the email in a 24-hour period, then we call or text them to see if it was an oversight,” she said. “And if we still don’t hear from them, then we send out a first responder to do a wellness check.”
Deacon said the service is ideal for seniors living in their homes alone, and also for caregivers, especially if they are a spouse.
“They are very isolated, because it’s so hard to take their loved one anywhere,” she said. “The Daily Hello takes away that burden from others who would normally check on them and brings them peace of mind.”
An annual subscription to Your Daily Hello is $30. In addition to email service, members also receive a File of Life, a red pouch that is magnetized to the refrigerator including a form they fill out for first responders to discover. The form lists any known allergies or health conditions, who to contact in case of an emergency, and their primary care physician. An additional form is also available for those who have pets.
Deacon and her business partner, Leah Perfect, want to expand nationally with the service, as well as benefit those on the Key Peninsula.
“We looked at the numbers of seniors who lived alone, and reaching across the U.S., we realized the numbers we would reach would be very big,” Deacon said.
Edie Morgan, executive director at the Mustard Seed Project of the Key Peninsula, praised Deacon’s idea and said will do a lot of good for seniors aging in place.
Since its founding in 2006, the Mustard Seed Project has been devoted to helping people age in place in the Key Peninsula and providing them essential resources.
“I think (Your Daily Hello) will fill a need that exists,” Morgan said. “Isolation is a concern for everyone who is aging. (Deacon) is one of the entrepreneurs that recognized that this is a growing need.”
Deacon will have no shortage of clientele. The number of people 55 and older on the Key Peninsula is about 30 percent of the population, or roughly 6,000, according to the 2010 U.S. Census.
“The population of the country is aging,” Morgan said. “It’s being called the Silver Tsunami.”
Deacon said her goal is to enroll 1,000 new members per month. Once to full capacity, Deacon said she will hire a few customer service representatives to support members. Other goals on the horizon include developing proprietary software to provide for enhanced features in the processes of sending emails and also expanding to an app-based service.
Much of the marketing of the business has been by word-of-mouth to this point. During presentations to various senior living homes and agencies supporting seniors, new thoughts and ideas on how to expand have been presented. The business is constantly in flux, she said, and the integration of new features may trigger a price increase to possibly $40 for an annual membership.
But Deacon is confident she is providing an invaluable service.
“We’re hoping to save lives,” she said.
To register, visit yourdailyhello.com.