Living well Your Health & Wellness

Younger adult companions are now available on-demand

Written by Diane Archer

One new “buddy” service for older adults matches older adults with younger adult companions. It’s called Papa. And, it launched in Florida in January 2018.

Andrew Parker, Papa’s founder, started the business after seeing how much his grandfather benefited from a younger adult companion. Papa provides part-time jobs for college and graduate students.  It meets older adults’ practical needs–transportation, household chores and help with other basic activities. And, it promotes social engagement, which goes hand in hand with better health. It keeps older adults from feeling socially isolated and lonely.

What does it cost to bring a younger adult buddy into the life of an older adult? Right now, it costs $20 an hour for Papa’s basic service, which does not require a membership fee. If you want to interview your buddies and choose the ones you want, there’s a $30 a month fee on top of the $20 an hour. But, Papa does a fairly intensive screening of all the students it recruits, including personality tests and background checks. Papa only enlists about 5 percent of student applicants.

How does Papa work? Papa relies on technology to match students with older adults, which makes the experience of finding a companion as seamless and efficient as possible. Today it serves more than 2,000 people. The goal, in Parker’s words, “To make sure every interaction is awesome.”

Papa is currently only available in Florida. Parker plans to expand Papa’s services to New York in the next 90 days and in many other locations over time.

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