Loneliness continues to be a focus for research on older adults, with both senior living developers and researchers attempting to find savvy new ways to curb loneliness in the aging demographic. Approaches have included intergenerational volunteer opportunities where younger and older generations can begin a unique friendship. Next Avenue reports that Andrew Parker saw that approach as an entrepreneurship opportunity. He founded Papa, modeled to resemble app-based services like Uber and Lyft, with a clever slogan that says it all: “Grandkids On-Demand.”
Older adults who sign up for the service—also known as Papa members—can request a randomly assigned young contractor, called a Papa Pal. Papa Pals are, on average, 22 years old, although some are in their early 30s. Duties of the Papa Pals might include light housework, tech help, and rides to appointments. However, the founder’s main idea behind the app is companionship, with chores as an add-on. Companionship can mean rides to the beach, being an older adult’s plus-one at a wedding, or just listening to life stories.
The report highlights that out of 2,000 monthly applications to be Papa Pals, just 4% are hired. This is because the hiring process is quite intense: there is a background check, along with a motor vehicle check and a personality test that measures empathy and patience. Papa offers two memberships, premium and basic, which differ in monthly operational fees. Both, however, require members to pay the hourly rate of the Papa Pals, which is $15.
Testimonies from Papa members and Papa Pals highlight that the friendships gained from this service make it more than just a job. This app offers close intergenerational companionship that works to decrease loneliness, and, through its tech-savvy approach, has reached communities across Florida with hopes to expand into the Northeast.
Rieland R. ‘Papa’ provides Millennial grandkids on-demand. Next Avenue. https://www.nextavenue.org/papa-provides-grandkids-on-demand/. Accessed March 5, 2019.