BBA Student Combats Senior Isolation
Chatting to Wellness is a non-profit organization that combats senior isolation and loneliness to help improve their mental health; founded by fourth-year Schulich student, Mahad Shahzad (BBA ’20). Weekly visits to retirement homes are conducted by a student team of more than 30 volunteers to talk with lonely, isolated, and abandoned seniors.
After visiting his grandparents in Pakistan, Mahad could sense their feelings of loneliness despite them living with lots of family members. He noticed that they ate by themselves, watched TV by themselves, and generally lived life on their own.
Upon further research, Mahad learned about the amount of isolation and abandonment of seniors in retirement homes, the lack of family visits, and the absence of social engagement. With the help of the Schulich community and other local university students, Chatting to Wellness has provided over 3,000 in-person sessions to seniors across the Greater Toronto Area and Southern Ontario.
“I can think of a handful of professors who were absolutely phenomenal,” shared Mahad. “They were incredibly knowledgeable in their field and very generous with their time.”
The conversations, led by the seniors, are entirely free and are 45 minutes in length. Online sessions are now available between 6 pm – 9 pm EST, Monday to Friday. “This opportunity is one that many seniors just do not get,” said Mahad. “Some go weeks or months without talking to anyone.”
Seniors can either sign up directly or have a family member sign up for a call, on their behalf, by visiting www.chattingtowellness.ca/phonechats.
Shahzad was recently selected as one of Ownr’s Grant Recipients, a $25,000 fund sponsored by RBC Ventures for entrepreneurs in Canada, facing challenges due to COVID-19.