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At this café, grandparents bake and young and old interact

Café abuelos Vollpension


Adriana Bello - published on 09/09/23

This Viennese organization runs cafés where the elderly can employ their baking skills to make extra money and interact with others of all ages.

Imagine having a delicious coffee accompanied by a scrumptious dessert, and being served by someone with the affection of a grandparent … That’s Vollpension, a series of cozy cafés in Austria that are characterized by the fact that half of their employees are senior citizens.

Some people may wonder why these seniors wouldn’t prefer to take it easy. However, the truth is that Vollpension has turned out to be a great opportunity for the elderly, not only economically but also emotionally. Because yes, while there are older people who may want to remain at home, there are others who would like to be able to continue working, but who experience labor discrimination.

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A post shared by Vollpension 🍰 (@vollpension_wien)

As this company explains on its website, the seemingly simple act of making a coffee or baking a cake can be freeing. Itallows them to feel useful and helps them fight loneliness (one of the biggest problems today) because they interact with other people, both young and old. Lastly, the workers earn some extra money to supplement their often-insufficient pensions. 

During the pandemic, we all saw the impact of isolation on people of all ages. Many times, elderly people in big cities (especially in Europe) live alone. So, as long as these people have the physical and mental capacity to work and the desire to do so, there’s no reason to discriminate against them in the work environment.

Another similar case in Latin America

In Mexico, Starbucks opened a branch in Coyoacán in 2018 staffed by people between the ages of 60 and 65. Unlike Vollpension, there the workers are exclusively seniors. Some adjustments were made in terms of store design (a single floor) and working hours (two days off and a working day of 6.5 hours per shift) to accommodate their needs.

An example to copy

You don’t have to wait for someone else in your city to try the same thing. If you have a grandfather, grandmother, or elderly parent who wants to work — either to earn extra money or to feel useful — maybe you can help them find pleasurable work or start a business or service of their own.

On social networks, it’s becoming increasingly common to find profiles of grandmothers who give cooking tips or sell food that they prepare. There are also examples of seniors who teach younger people how to repair things at home, or who even give life advice.

Those of us who are minimally tech-savvy can help our elderly family members or neighbors who need technical support. As at the Vollpension cafés in Austria, when young and old work together the generation gap suddenly narrows, and the world becomes a more respectful, caring, and better place.

And the advantages run both ways, becauseyoung people also have a lot to learn from older adults. Both generations can flourish when they help each other.

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