Fighting loneliness: How this app helps senior citizens 'order' grandkids
The impact of loneliness, which occur due to different factors, is believed to be similar to that of smoking 10 cigarettes a day. It can be extremely problematic, especially for senior citizens who end up alone after retirement or when their kids move out to work/study. But, now, a start-up is solving this problem by offering 'grandkids' through its app. Here's how it works.
Join Papa, an app based in Florida, provides 'grandchildren on demand' to help senior citizens fight their alone time. The platform, just like an Uber for cab or Swiggy for food, serves as a medium connecting senior citizens with youngsters willing to spend time with them. It pays young college-going students $10 per hour to spend time with the elderly and charges $17.
As part of the program, youngsters sign up at Join Papa to help senior citizens as their 'pals', the Wall Street Journal reported. They visit their place and then spend time with them by either assisting them with household chores like preparing meals or chopping or by simply chatting. For many Join Papa customers, these 'grandchildren' are their only human contact.
"They're all very nice and, you know, I'll converse with them and find out what they're doing and studying and so forth," Marilyn Sumkin, an 87-year-old woman using Join Papa's service, told the journal. "It's for me a very important service."
In a place like US, where nearly half of the people are lonely, a service like Join Papa can make a strong impact. However, the service doesn't allow senior citizens to choose their pals by default; it charges an additional $30 per month for the feature. This can affect some as they might not share a strong bond with everyone.
Like US, loneliness has also taken roots in India. In 2004, the National Sample Survey Office reported that 4.91 million people in the country were living alone and suffered from loneliness. It is expected the numbers have only increased since then, leading to problems of depression and anxiety. Hopefully, we may soon see a service like this to help the elderly here too.