Have You Been Dropping More Things as You Get Older? Take Two

Grandkids on Demand Plus The Alex and Ronni Show

Following my cancer surgery last year, it was six or eight weeks before I felt capable of driving to the market, medical checkups and other appointments. I live in the suburbs so there isn't much choice in getting anywhere beyond walking distance except by driving.

I was lucky. Terrific neighbors and friends stepped in to take up that slack while I needed it but not everyone has that choice.

According to the 2016 Older Americans Key Indicators of Well-Being report [pdf], 25 percent of men age 65 and older live alone and 36 percent of women in that age group do. Some have friends and family nearby to help out when needed but tens of millions of us do not.

That's what Andrew Parker realized not long ago that led to his founding Papa, a service that matches elders in need of some assistance with college students who want to help.

Parker had been regularly helping his grandfather – whom he calls Papa – but as his day job workload increased he couldn't always get away to run errands. He hired a woman via Facebook who began assisting Papa in Parker's stead. But as he told TechCrunch:

”The experience made Parker realize there was a gap in the market for seniors who, like his grandfather, were mostly independent and don’t require a caregiver, but still needed occasional help from a trustworthy person.”

That's when he quit his job to create Papa, providing “what he describes as 'pre-care' from college students he named Papa Pals.”

Here's Andrew Parker talking about Papa:

Parker further explained how it works in an interview with Pymnts.com:

“'The first time someone contacts us, they often have a specific idea about what they need, and we catalog that and send it on to the student who will be working with them. Sometimes they want a ride to the doctor, sometimes they are looking for someone to teach them how to use Netflix.

“'We had a member who was on the campaign trail with Ronald Reagan 30 years ago, and her family hired a Papa Pal to help her transcribe her very interesting life story into a digital format for her family.'

“What they often found, however, is that the relationships evolve between the users and the Papa Pals, so that the tasks they end up doing together often range widely from where they started.

The students are carefully screened before being accepted as Papa Pals. Among the requirements, according to the Papa website:

3.0 GPA or higher

Major/Minor in Nursing, Psychology, Pre-med, Health Sciences or other health-related field preferred

Full or part-time student enrolled in a four-year university

Must have a valid .edu email address, a vehicle and a valid drivers license

Must be able to pass a full background check

Clients can pay for services a la carte at about $20 an hour, or use the subscription service. The student Papa Pals earn about $15 per hour.

Beginning in 2019, new rules will make it possible for Medicare Advantage to pay for some of Papa's services, particularly medical appointment transportation.

For now, Papa operates only on Florida but they have plans to expand, first to 10 more states and then beyond.

I think this is an extremely important innovation. Whether we elders like to admit it or not, the time will come when we can't do as much as we once did and may even need to give up our driving privileges.

As I mentioned above, I had a taste of what is to come after my surgery. It was a long time before I could shove the vacuum cleaner around and even pulling the laundry out of washer and into the dryer was difficult.

For people who don't need full-time care but can use some help in other ways, this is a great solution.

You can find out more about Papa at the company's website and the Facebook page.

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Here is the latest episode of The Alex and Ronni Show recorded yesterday. In the second half there is a lot of Judge Brent Kavanaugh chat. I'm not sure we said anything you haven't heard.

If you would like to see Alex's entire two-hour show with other guests following our chat, you can do that at Facebook or Gabnet on Facebook or on YouTube.


This is one of those ideas whose time may have come.
I recently had my first cataract removal with a follow-up visit, both of which required a driver attendant. The hospital's social work department shared that seniors living alone was getting to be more and more of a thing and referred me to a home health aide registry as a possible resource. That worked but was a bit expensive, especially as they're engaged for a 5-hour minimum plus a mileage charge for driving. Fortunately, I only have one more cataract but, if and as the glaucoma progresses, this could get to be an issue. I'm blessed with a military retirement as well as Social Security, but a less expensive alternative would be welcome.

With my son and his wife living nearby, and a grandson who will be driving in a few months, I probably won't need such a service. And yet I feel guilty imposing on a very busy family where both parents work. Papa sounds like a great idea for all concerned.

Oh, I got so excited about this: I thought finally, something that'll work for an old couple stranded (husband refuses to move) out here in the boonies. And there is a University about 5 miles away that could provide employees for Papa; this sounds wonderful! But then, as usual, hopes dashed again: nope, it's only in Florida. And while it's nice they plan to expand, I'm 3,000 miles away from Fl; by the time they make it all the way out here, I doubt I'll even still be around. (And to answer the suggestion that I check with that sorta-nearby Univ., to see about programs they might have like this: that place has had so many cutbacks--I used to work there so try to keep up on what's going on--it's hard to even get anybody to answer the phone there these days.

So nice idea but like a lot of life, you have to be in the right place at the right time. Thanks anyway, though.

This is worth looking into if you are NOT in Florida.

This is about River West Village in our area. I have attended 2 of their presentations in Portland, OR. They are a lovely group of people, mostly women younger than I and very enthusiastic about their cause. I understood it to be a nation wide program. Volunteers do tasks friends and family might do, including transportation, household chores and technology assistance. They have well vetted drivers for out of home needs.

Locally they have a Website for internet savvy folks using the phrase *River West Village*. It is very professionally done. This is from the Web page..."Aging is a team sport; let’s do it together! River West Village is part of the national Village Movement of neighbors working together to offer age-friendly options for older adults to successfully live safely and independently in their homes and more meaningful lives."

Villagers (volunteers and clients) make new friends close to home by getting together for coffee, walks, discussion, happy hour and outings. The comment that caught my attention was "Helping Neighbors Stay Neighbors".

First , a comment on the "Alex Ronni show". While I agree that Kavanaugh is a disaster for all the reasons mentioned plus many more and that the Republican's on the committee are misogynist jerks, I felt that this was an Alex show and he didn't allow you time to speak, Ronni. I was disappointed about that. Sorry, Alex, but that's the way I saw it.

I am lucky to be living in Tucson because we have a wonderful organization called "Pima County on Aging" and they are a great resource for elders seeking help. I get my rides free from an organization "Lutheran Social Services" and the only catch is I have to reserve a ride over 4 days in advance and it must be related to a medical appointment. They also provide a grocery shopping service.

Although I do have a daughter and granddaughter living here, neither can afford the time off from work when I need a ride. I am living alone and they would come in an emergency, but I do not call on them for any other service.

Darlene, you rock! You always rock!

Probably mentioned this before but it fits the topic.

Some students from a local college take a community service class and volunteer at the ILR for a semester, helping serve food, bus tables and drive residents to grocery stores, etc.

After completing the course, they must write a paper based on their experiences getting to know the residents.

They also receive a written report from the adult volunteers with whom they work.

I love that program.

It's a delight to observe students interacting with and developing respect and even surprise at what they learn from the residents.

Young dogs learn old tricks that work.

Some students return to volunteer after their program ends.

Class act.

Ronni, I could not get your Alex show to play. I will try again later.

Thanks, Charlene for the heads up about River West Village; according to their website, tho, they're only located in Oregon. I did send them a msg. asking which is the case; hopefully I'll hear back soon.

All Villages are local - there is no national Village. You might find help at finding a village in your neighborhood at Village to Village network. Just search that phrase: village to village network.

For Officerripley:

The website I mentioned is for the Greater Portland area... 8 "villages" and growing beyond their expectations. They would like more volunteers, of course.

It is part of a growing aging-at-home movement that started in Boston in 1999, and has spread to hundreds of communities across the nation. Locally it is a program of Villages NW, a 501(c)(3)non-profit. You can Google "Village Movement" for Villages history if you want to know more.

I had relatively quick responses with email and a phone call when I wanted to know more.

Thanks, all, for the info.; the village to village site shows that the nearest one is at least 3 hours away from here, but I sent an email asking if I could be notified about one if they ever plan to have one in my area. (All this stuff sounds so good, but my fear is that by the time any of these services ever make it out here to the boonies, I'll no longer need it since I'll either be in a skilled nursing facility or in an urn sitting on my nephew's mantle, sigh.)

Thanks for focusing on this aspect of aging for those of us without local family help but wanting to live in place as we age.

This is a really important option that could be an addition to what we already have here through our city’s Sr. Services, including our Village group. The latter requires an over $500 annual fee, uses volunteers and members helping members among other services.

We have a Univ. nearby offering training in the healthcare arena, but none of our city’s colleges do other than Psych. I’ve used a gal who advertised herself in our local weekly newspaper as a Girl Friday $20/hr. Had to use her for transport home following colonoscopy as hospital would no longer allow other type transportation for those of us alone. I’m going to need more help eventually, maybe sooner than I thought.

I’ll include this info for the group I started this Fall at our Sr Center “Thriving In Place” which I’ve described on my blog. What’s also of special interest is a Medicare program offering some financial benefit, but not all have that program. Health care needs to include such a benefit as have previously read staying in place can be less expensive to the system than facility costs.

The fly in the ointment is that there’s more need for such helpers than there are workers available according to articles I’ve read.

Yeah, Alex can get on a rant, but Ronni just smiles, prettily, and moves on. I so enjoy the show!

An update on my asking the Village to Village site if I could be notified as to if or when such a site would be in my area: they just directed me to the map which I had already looked at & saw the nearest site was 3 hrs. away. Soooo, I assume that means there are no plans for one anywhere near me.

We do have a Passages/Area Agency on Aging in our area & I chat online with people who talk about how great their local Passages Agency is but I notice that they're in or near a big city; our Passages is so limited & doesn't have anywhere near the services that I read about online I guess because we're out in the middle of nowhere.

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