Every morning, Georgia* wakes up early, makes her oats and yogurt, sits at her kitchen table and plans for the day ahead.

In months past, she could look forward to a visit from her grandchildren, a trip to the library or working in her garden.

Lately, though, there hasn’t been much to look forward to.

With smoke from California fires filling the air and coronavirus fears keeping her separated from her family, she’s been stuck at home, inside, alone.

Though Georgia thinks she’s holding up pretty well for an 85 year old, she’s been trying to tackle high blood pressure. Her doctor referred her to mynurse.ai and we sent over a blood pressure monitor so that she could keep tabs on her readings with help from her Wellness Coach, Natalie.

Early on, she’d been doing quite well, keeping her numbers in check and testing twice per day.

But in the last few weeks, things took a turn. We noticed higher blood pressure readings, more often, especially at night. Some days, she didn’t use her monitor at all.

When Natalie checked in with her, Georgia said that since being stuck at home, she’d found herself snacking more, spending whole days in front of the TV and feeling depressed. Even little things — like getting up to get her blood pressure monitor — took a lot of effort, she said.

Natalie and Georgia discussed her diet, whether she was drinking enough water. But really, Georgia said, she thought the problem was much simpler: She felt lonely.

Natalie understood. She’d been missing her own parents, who lived across the country and whom she hadn’t seen in person in months. She asked if Georgia had been able to at least get some exercise — even just moving around the house a bit. A little more activity could not only help her blood pressure, Natalie said, but also improve her mood.

Georgia wished it were that simple. She wanted to be active, but she couldn’t help but think of the falls she’d had earlier in the year — how embarrassed she’d felt asking for help and how she always worried it would happen again.

That made sense, Natalie said. As we age, our muscles tend to get weaker, which can make it harder to maintain balance and lead to falls. But believe it or not, a bit of exercise is one of the most effective tools seniors have in preventing falls. Exercises that focus on balance and strength can reduce the risk of falling, Natalie said, and all you need to get started is a chair.

She shared some videos with Georgia that showed her how she could keep moving at home: Walking on her heels and toes, holding the back of her couch as support. Facing a wall and doing a side shuffle, the same way you might look for a book on the library shelves.

She gave Georgia some ideas for how she could build a healthier diet and exercise habit with a few tiny steps, too — using TV commercials or the mail being delivered as her cue to do a little walking, brushing her teeth right after she did the dishes to curb her nighttime snacking, using turning off the kitchen light at night as a cue for a bit of deep breathing before bed to help her ease anxiety and get some rest.

Meanwhile, Natalie keeps checking in. They chat about Georgia’s numbers and progress, but also what she’s watching, the plants in her garden, what her grandkids are up to.

In their most recent call, Natalie told Georgia her blood pressure is heading in the right direction. She’s been keeping up with her measurements twice a day and feels just a bit more confident, a bit less stuck. Once the smoke clears, she’s looking forward to getting back outside.

“I’m glad someone is looking after me,” she said. “You gave me a little boost.”

*Member names and some details have been changed to protect privacy

Waleed Mohsen

Author Waleed Mohsen

Waleed Mohsen is the co-founder and CEO of mynurse.ai. He has been named a UCSF Rosenman Innovator and has over 10 years of experience working with leaders of hospitals and medical institutions in his business development roles at Siemens and Cisco.

More posts by Waleed Mohsen