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How AI is helping Baby Boomers find kids who need a mentor

Catherine E. Shoichet

CNN

Oct 23, 2023

A 69-year-old retired corporate meeting planner shares tips for staying calm with a stressed-out high school senior.

A 79-year-old retired teacher tries to reassure a 6-year-old who’s feeling frightened.

And just weeks after retiring from a career running her own company, a 75-year-old is learning to use an AI art program to create cute cat pictures she hopes will make a first grader smile.

They’re among a growing number of mentors across the United States matched with mentees by Eldera, an online platform that uses an AI algorithm to pair adults who are at least 60 with young people ages 5-18 for regular video chats.

“This is how we undo ‘OK Boomer,’” says Eldera co-founder and CEO Dana Griffin.

“When you bring people together one to one, they will figure out how to take care of each other,” she says. “And that’s what we’ve seen.”

Dispelling generational stereotypes is only one part of Eldera’s mission. There’s an even bigger problem Griffin is hoping her company can help solve.

Loneliness, long lamented by mental health experts and recently defined as an epidemic by the US Surgeon General, is hitting older and younger people particularly hard.

And the consequences can be dire. In an advisory in May, Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said the health risks of loneliness and isolation are as deadly as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

It’s a bleak picture, but Griffin says what she’s seen since Eldera started in the early days of the pandemic has given her hope.

“We created something that…actually has tremendous health benefits to both young and old,” she says, “and I absolutely did not expect that.”

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