As Americans age, it becomes more and more challenging to stay physically and socially active, two things necessary for a long and healthy life. Two local seniors with a passion for keeping connected to the world have started an Online business in Natick to meet others just like them.
Pete Phildius, who turns 82 this month, and his business partner Diane Glass, 69, founded thegraysmatter.com just a few weeks ago—a project that took them two years to create, while working on a variety of other business ideas. The Online company, run out of Natick, offers opportunities for seniors to blog, discuss issues, share book reviews and recipes, links to information for seniors, tips to keep your brain active and more. In each edition published, the website's Senior Hall of Fame features a profile on a local active senior, like 79-year-old Ray Murphy who runs 2 miles each day and still swims competitively.
"It won't be too long before seniors are the majority of the population; pretty soon we're all going to live to 100-years-old," said Phildius, a Wellesley resident, who just broke the record for 80 to 84-year-olds in the 50-yard breast stroke at the New England Masters Championship this past weekend at Harvard. "We need to make that population productive and if we keep healthy and get interested in staying connected with society, then we'll be a part of the solution."
Since their website officially launched, the founders have been using social media like Facebook and Twitter to grow their following to about 10,000 readers, Phildius said. In five years, he said, they hope to have an international following of one million.
An inevitable problem that thegraysmatter.com has faced is the challenge of helping some seniors overcome their intimidation of navigating the internet. To help their readers and contributors feel more comfortable, Phildius and Glass, a Wayland resident, post links to help instruct the seniors. More and more seniors, Phildius said, have been willing to try to use new technology.
"A very large percentage of the iPads are now being purchased by senior citizens. One of the reasons they're doing it is because they're being encouraged by their grandchildren and their grandchildren are teaching them how to do it."
To help get things going, the founders have enlisted the help of a few local high school students to help with the website and producing some of the content. Soon to follow will be presentations seniors can attend in person to learn how to use the website.
"We're trying to get the wisdom and the intellect from people around the world to land on this site, to become part of it and to make a contribution," Phildius said.
"I'm learning so much more than I knew when I started it. I've done a lot of things in my years and I've had a lot of fun doing them and I've built a lot of stuff, but this is the most fun I've ever had," he added. "I've got a real purpose in life and it's just really exciting to me."