companionship intergenerationality

Loneliness, Intergenerational Companionship and Mr Tata

Ratan Tata is one of India’s most respected personalities, a business icon, and needs very little introduction really. Naturally, his recent investment in an intergenerational companionship startup got a lot of attention.

When somebody like Mr Tata speaks about loneliness and how it is a social issue to be addressed, it draws attention from a wider cross section of people.

Shifts in our way of life (migration, nuclearization of families, urbanisation, etc) and ill conceived habitations continue to impact social bonds, even making them toxic sometimes. Our cities and large towns provide density, which is quite important to reduce social isolation, however, they are unable to fully capture the intergenerational benefits of previous generations, and provide a safe and supportive environment overall.

For many elders across India, companionship is social. It comes in the form of family, friends and neighbors. Intergenerational bonds are formed in neighborhoods, and between people from different generations who cross paths on a regular basis, and support each other in times of need or emergency. Much of India still lives this way.

Loneliness and isolation among older adults were heightened during the pandemic, and many initiatives sprung up to create community-level support. Senior citizen welfare organizations, and informal hobby and inclusive interest groups (walking group, book reading group, etc) in the neighborhood are spaces that provide opportunities to build bonds. On the other hand, (silver economy) startups like Silver TalkiesEvergreen ClubEasy Hai and Khyaal are building community based models by engaging mature adults through various activities and programs, and using technology to create digital communities.

Intergenerational companionship can take many forms, and doesn’t need to be limited to support activities of daily living (ADLs). It can be a two-way street where both sides benefit from such friendships and bonds. Individuals can choose to be listening companions, intellectual companions, sparring companions, learning companions, travel companions or creative companions.

Mr Tata’s words have helped gather steam around the issue of loneliness among older adults, and the need to foster intergenerational bonds to reduce isolation.

If you want to break #AgeBias and foster intergenerational diversity, sign up for the GenConnect initiative now!