September 7, 2009 / 9:36 AM / in 8 years

"Facebook" for 50-somethings woos India's web-savvy seniors

NEW DELHI (Reuters Life!) - A social networking website for the elderly is helping Internet-savvy seniors in India battle loneliness and make new friends with the click of a mouse and in the comfort of their own homes.

Screenshot of Verdurez.com, a social networking website for Internet-savvy seniors in India who are battling loneliness and making new friends with the click of a mouse and in the comfort of their own homes. REUTERS/Screenshot/Verdurez.com

Verdurez.com (www.verdurez.com), described by its creator as a Facebook for those aged 55-years and above, has around 4,000 registered users who blog, chat, read health news or play puzzles online.

Traditionally, several generations of one family have lived under the same roof, with the grandparents often taking care of their grandchildren while the parents go to work.

But while this remains the case in most rural households, city dwellers are increasingly moving out of the family home, leaving the older generation to live alone.

“Old age doesn’t mean the end of life, there’s still lots to do, especially in this age of the Internet,” says Verdurez founder Ishita Sukhadwala, a London-based consultant.

Users need to be at least 55 to join Verdurez while the oldest members are in their 70s.

Sukhadwala had initially conceptualised Verdurez as a dating site for Indian babyboomers, but her father convinced her that the idea was too radical for a country where dating, let alone premarital sex, is frowned upon.

While a dating service and a job board for seniors remain in the pipeline, Verdurez users can meet new people online, exchange ideas and share their life experiences.

“One of our members, after he joined us, he lost his wife, he posted a blog on what he went through, what he felt and the regrets he had,” Sukhadwala said. “It was very touching.”

According to government officials, India’s elderly population is expected to double by 2026 to 173 million.

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