Picture this: your elderly HECM client has always adored youngsters, but he and his dear wife, who married late in life for their era, never had children. So there are no grandchildren to spoil, either.
Or, perhaps they have grandchildren — who live far away, across the country or across the globe. Now his wife is gone, and he so wishes he had grandkids who could come visit.
Once upon an extended family, that might have meant inviting grandnieces and grandnephews over. Today, it means a senior without biological family (or even with them) can hire a vetted “grandchild” to spend time with.
Grandkids on Demand
The sharing economy has become the caring economy. It’s the newest and sweetest way to alleviate the loneliness endemic to an older population — and enable both generations to discover what the other has to share.
In fact, addressing elder loneliness is one of the key motivations that birthed the rent-a-grandchild app known as Papa. When his own grandfather was diagnosed with dementia, Papa founder Andrew Parker watched his grandmother struggle to care for him. His grandfather didn’t need home care per se; just someone to relieve his grandmother and spend quality time with his grandfather. Papa (the name comes from his family’s nickname for his grandfather) fills this service gap.
Papa connects college students and seniors who’d like to spend time together. Whether the elder needs household help, transportation, tech tutoring, or simply some stimulating conversation, Papa matches them with a rigorously screened student eager to be of service to older adults.
Unlike traditional home care agencies, there is no weekly minimum or ongoing commitment; the senior controls when their “grandchild” comes to “visit”. They can even request a specific student repeatedly, which helps build a relationship.
This positive approach provides an enjoyable way for a HECM holder to age in place with comfort, care, and companionship. The service is also very affordable, and Medicare Advantage will (at last) begin covering home health assistance in 2019.
While “renting” a grandchild is still a step down from Japan’s innovative “family rental” business, where clients can rent wives, husbands and children who act the part of the missing family members, Papa does encourage its students to broaden seniors’ social interaction and help expand their skills, such as learning to use social media.
Services such as Papa can also be a precursor to cross-generational home sharing down the road.
And maybe, if your rental relatives (or actual ones) come for a longer visit, they can stay in your universal design-adapted tiny house. In this collaborative era, these two game-changing innovations might be an ideal match.