Connecting Seniors with Local Services

In an on-demand era, people are able to order movies, food and services right to their doorstep which has enormous potential for older adults planning to age-in-place.  And more traditional at-home service providers are sharing the fast-growing senior market with new companies popping up connecting older adults to people who can help with household chores, meal preparation, transportation and perhaps most importantly, companionship. 

According to a recent article in Home Health Care News, the Brooklyn startup, Umbrella, is a TaskRabbit-style membership service that helps seniors age-in-place with support from people in their neighborhood who may be able to provide the assistance they require.  Umbrella was founded in 2017 and plans are already underway to expand across the United States this summer.  

Umbrella is unique because it focuses on drawing from nearby individuals that are able to take small or larger jobs at a price affordable to seniors on a fixed income.  Local community members are able to sign up to provide services to their older neighbors; the average wage for most tasks is $20 per hour and members pay an annual fee of $199 for access to the Umbrella marketplace. 

Whether it’s a trip to the grocery store, household maintenance, gardening or lawn services, seniors can use Umbrella to connect with people in their own neighborhood and enhance their sense of community.  As much as most older adults would prefer to age-in-place, without reliable help and face-to-face social interaction, seniors may struggle on their own.  Startups like Umbrella or Papa, a membership service that connects college student with older adults to provide assistance and companionship, are helping meet the fast-growing need for senior services. 

For older adults who are not able to access these marketplaces, there are other avenues for connecting with a local community to find help. A neighborhood Facebook page or the Next Door social network can be useful sources of information.  Many people use these apps to ask for referrals for reliable people available to provide services, however, membership-based marketplaces usually interview each member and required a background check and multiple references.  Although more costly, membership services vet their providers more thoroughly than word-of-mouth references, helping to keep older adults safer.