THE EKLUND ǀ GOMES TEAM

Silvernest and OATS Celebrate and Improve Aging

THOMAS KAMBER, above right, assisting a senior at Senior Planet which he created and launched in 2013. Photo courtesy of Thomas Kamber.

As part of WestView News’ ongoing efforts to improve the lives of seniors in the West Village and to create community for all ages in our neighborhood, I interviewed Wendi Burkhardt, CEO of Silvernest, a national online home sharing service, and Thomas Kamber who created the celebrated Senior Planet and OATS (Older Adults Technology Services). Both of these companies are on the cutting edge of bringing our population of 65+ resources and enhancing lifestyles so that we as a society can manage and celebrate the growing population of elders that will triple by 2050.

Burkhardt told me, “Living with another person in a homeshare environment has a powerful impact on health, daily activities, on outlook on life. There are so many powerful aspects to it. We are meant to live as a tribe—this enhances health and longevity. It’s about choice and being engaged, having relationships and connectivity. We are not meant to live in isolation.” She has learned from following up with home share clients in more than 10 states that isolation limits life and connectivity enhances it. Elders should not be relegated to living in isolation as a rule. In addition to this, Burkhardt explains, our aging population is facing a big shift in the choices that people will have. Unfortunately, privatized care and the option for Assisted Living and Independent Communities is going to be a challenge for most people. Most baby boomers can’t afford these options and are searching for realistic alternatives. Silvernest fulfills that need.

Silvernest is a home sharing program that matches people of all ages in homes in 50 states, has been in the market for 2½ years and has had online interactions with over 85,000 potential clients. For our West Village community, the small size of many apartments, and escalating rents, limit how people can live. This has caused people to move out of a community they love. We would like to create a solution with Silvernest to match elders with roommates who can provide companionship and some limited services while paying lower than market rents.

Because Silvernest is an online service and many of our elders don’t use computers, have limited access to them or need to improve their computer skills, I spoke with Thomas Kamber whose Older Adults Technology Services (OATS) accommodates 110 seniors per day for its class-based computer training. OATS also offers one-on-one training for seniors to learn how to use mobile devices (iPads, iPhones etc.). 60 people per day can be taught for one-on-one sessions and there is no fee for any of these classes—they are all 100% free of charge. Seniors can also be taught web design, activism and other skills on their computers by the versatile staff. Senior Planet, which houses OATS services, is located on 25th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues. Senior Planet is an exciting center with ongoing programs and activities including movies, yoga classes and much more, home to the only events calendar curated for older New Yorkers.

It’s possible that OATS could set up weekly classes in the Village and has done so on Washington Square in the past. Please let us know if you’d like us to request that such a class is created for our community. (https://seniorplanet.org/explore-nyc/)


Write to us if you’re interested in home-sharing, for more information and to connect with Silvernest and Senior Planet here. Please mention that you read this article in WestView News: reimann.westview@gmail.com

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