Globalization increasingly results in the strain of living far from aging family members. Let's take care of each other's far flung, aging family members as if they were our own and simultaneously look after the aging relative who lives close to us.
This idea was developed during a recent Palo Alto OpenIDEO meet-up and builds on the "gRENTparents" concept—except in reverse.
Globalization increasingly results in the strain of living far away from our aging family members. Let's take care of each other's overseas or far flung aging family members as if they were our own. Let's connect our aging relatives to a "foster family" who lives nearby, and simultaneously look after the aging relative who lives close to us. We can either have a direct exchange, or build connections through a larger social network. It will be important for the young participants in the network to be both consumers and providers of services.
You live in San Francisco, your grandmother lives in England. Someone else lives in England, their grandmother lives in San Francisco. You visit their grandmother, they visit yours. You keep each other posted about your visits. There wouldn't be much cost or at least it would be up to you.
We act in each other's stead. Let's be like family to them—visiting when we can, having coffee, playing cards, having dinner together, taking a walk—as if they were our own family members. All this, while having the peace of mind knowing someone is similarly in our stead with our aging relatives.
The result is two-fold: not only do we help to take care of those we love by ensuring they receive companionship and a regular caring presence (vital to the 'welderliness' of elderly people), we also improve our own wellbeing by alleviating some of the sadness and strain we can feel if we are not able to do this ourselves regularly.
comments below, we could learn from similar precedents like home swaps (
). People describe in detail what they want / need and are matched accordingly. As Emily says, "You could look for a grandpaRENT who like to sing, or tells good stories, or to whom you could offer specialized help that meshes with your particular expertise."
This would work well on a data-driven web platform, app or combination thereof. Trust will be a critical issue and some mutual screening inevitably be required.
(Thanks also to Jonathan Kleiman for developing this idea with us at the recent Palo Alto OpenIDEO meet-up.)