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When senior citizens connect with younger individuals on an emotional and social level, it can improve their overall quality of life, give them a sense of purpose and improve overall well-being for both, mentions a Standford report published in June 2016.
Intergenerational friendships not only promote re-engagement between individuals of different age groups but also helps to bridge the generational gaps between families, communities and wider societies. This results in sustainable, positive relationships and two-way benefits.
Numerous studies have also proved that engaging in intergenerational friendships can promote creativity and can also act wonders when it comes to tackling monotony, depression, and loneliness in senior citizens.
Business Tycoon Ratan Tata is known for his humble behaviour, and simplicity. Recently, he has again won hearts by investing in India's first companionship startup for senior citizens, Goodfellows in a bid to promote intergenerational friendships.
According to an All India report, an MBA from Cornell University, 28-YO Shantanu Naidu founded the Goodfellows startup. He is a General Manager at Mr Tata's office and is the fifth generation of his family to work in the Tata Group. During the launch of Goodfellows, Ratan Tata emphasised the term 'lonely' and mentioned, 'You do not know what it is like to be lonely until you spend time alone wishing for companionship.'
The same report says that about 15 million elderly people live in India alone either due to lack of company, loss of a partner, or families moving away for unavoidable work reasons. But, the primary reason is the deteriorating mental and physical health of the senior citizens.
The startup will hire young graduates, who will be known as 'Goodfellows'. Just like a grandkid, they will provide companionship and assist the senior citizens.'
While elderlies can influence the lifestyle changes and decision-making abilities of youngsters with their experience; the younger individuals can help them with hope, make them comfortable around new technology and also provide them with a sense of hope and belonging.
Also, what's interesting is that Goodfellows is a freemium subscription model where the first month is free and it will provide the opportunity to understand the concept and process by actually going through it. And, from the second month, a small subscription fee will be charged, which has been decided based on the limited affordability of pensioners.
This concept will also ensure that the communication between the elderly people and the younger individuals is open and honest, assist each other in simple tasks and in return, this process will help to counter stereotypes. Also, it will help to fill the void that young adults face who do not have grandparents or have lost them.
Also, the meaning of companionship varies from person to person, said Shantanu Naidu to All India in an interview. While for some it can be narrating stories from the past, watching a movie, going for a walk, sitting together and absolutely doing nothing, he said. The goal is to develop an organic relationship.
Also, the model guarantees that the companions will not be rotating so that a real bond and emotional attention can be developed between the senior citizens and the graduates. 'When we make a friend, we want to see the same friend often. A new person every time will prevent this from happening,' the company explained.
The brand is also planning to offer travel companions for elderly people so that when it comes to trips, there is no holding back due to the lack of company or security reasons. Also, there will be services for people dealing with a disability or more challenges.
The initiative will definitely help the young and old to understand each other better, and create a more inclusive society that will value the senior citizens.
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