A retired saxophonist is available for events, a 76-year-old offers painting classes, and a former plumber can help you fix your sink for a reasonable price. “There could be someone out there who could help you with a lot of things that you don’t know about,” says Núria Ricart, while she sandpapers an antique drawer. This retired librarian has spent months learning how to restore antiques and is now offering her experience to other people on Phyltime, an online platform that helps seniors share their skills and find activities.
Thanks to ideas like this one, my classmates and I can meet up, get out of the house and have fun for a while
Nuria Ricart, retired librarian
“I thought I was pretty clumsy and I was a bit scared about painting, but I like antiques and I thought, why don’t I learn how to restore them,” explains Ricart. In a small studio in the Sarrià neighborhood in Barcelona, she and her classmates spend their afternoons among paintbrushes and varnish. It’s now less about the restoration and more an excuse to leave the house and meet up with her new friends.
“I applied because I wanted to continue feeling active even if I was no longer working, and in the process I wanted to meet new people,” says the 72-year-old. While she barely knows how to use a cellphone, every day she excitedly checks her notifications on the Phyltime app. Be it a sewing course, a museum expedition or guitar lessons, there is no limit to what is offered to seniors who are eager to get out and about.
“One of the main characteristics of the platform is its social function,” says Juan Luis Domínguez, the head of Phyltime. Users simply need to register with the network, list their location and what activities they are interested in. Then, a communication system similar to WhatsApp informs them about what activities are available and at what price.
“Five years ago my mother retired, and from one day to the next she lost the vital rhythm she had when she was working. It was like watching a plane crash,” says Domínguez. The platform has grown exponentially since it was created, with more than 150,000 users aged over 50 registered across Spain and Latin America.
“In the restoration group, we are all a similar age. There is a 65-year-old woman who retired early, and then there is another woman who doesn’t like to mention it but who is 84, and she looks great,” says Ricart, chuckling.
Although she made her first foray into social media with a mix of doubt and stubbornness, this 72-year-old is now an internet convert and a strong believer in its possibilities. “Thanks to ideas like this one, my classmates and I can meet up, get out of the house and have fun for a while.”
English version by Melissa Kitson.