Feeling Lonely? Rent a Grandkid!

Feeling Lonely? Rent a Grandkid!

10,000 people turn 65 every day in the United States alone. This large-scale aging is forcing us to radically rethink how we care for seniors, especially since the need for at-home assistants is skyrocketing with the average age. According to the Census Bureau, we’ll need about 5,266,000 healthcare support jobs by 2022. That number is so high because 28% of people 65 and older live alone, and many of those people have little or no family around to help take care of them.

Large-scale aging, lack of healthcare support jobs and people aging at home alone have combined to create a big need. Andrew Parker saw this need, and decided to fill it. He founded the company Papa, an online service that connects seniors to college-age youth for help with daily chores, running errands, transportation, and even just having someone around to chat with. Or, as he likes to call it, grandkids on demand.

His own grandfather, who he called Papa, inspired Parker. When Parker saw Papa struggle to complete daily tasks by himself, he reached out to his college friends to find someone to help. This matching was a great success, and Parker saw he could help other people in this same way.

How it Works

Seniors aged 65 or older who want to sign up for the service can call an 800 number, create an account, and be matched with a younger “pal”. The “pals” access the service from an app, and are paid 50% to 60% of the revenue. Clients pay $20 an hour for the services, without having to commit with any membership fees. Seniors are matched with pals randomly, but are given the option to pay an extra $30 for premium service that allows them to handpick their pals.

All Pals are carefully and strictly vetted before hiring. The process includes a background check and thorough questionnaire. Papa especially seeks to hire nursing, pre-med, and biology students. However, it’s important to note that Pals are not trained primary caregivers, and are not licensed or certified to look after the chronically ill, administer healthcare or medication, or provide live-in services.

Papa is currently available all throughout Florida in cities like Fort Lauderdale, Miami and Fort Meyers. Parker has plans to expand the business to New York and more in the coming months.

Alternatives

If Papa isn’t for you, there are several other similar services. Visiting Angels is a nationwide program that sends “Angels” to senior’s homes to help with light housekeeping, errand running, and social interaction. Visiting Angels charges $15 to $40 per hour, and also offers live-in care for higher prices. Room2Care connects caregivers and seniors by helping them move in or close by one another. This is often preferable to moving into an assisted care facility.

The Benefits

Papa and these similar services are beneficial to everyone involved. First, having access to in-home, personalized care is vital for aging seniors. Second, the social benefits are amazing. There are scores of studies tat show loneliness and isolation can have a dire effect on a senior’s physical and mental health. Having regular contact with a “Pal” can greatly assuage this loneliness. Finally, Papa is a wonderful way for college-age youth to not only make extra money during their studies, but also to create cherished connections with older generations.

Would you consider signing your parents up for a service like Papa? Would you maybe hire grandkids on demand for yourself one day? Tell us in the comment section.

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