Andrew Parker’s grandfather needed help, but he didn’t need a doctor. He needed someone to help him with groceries and take him to doctor appointments. “Who wants to be a pal to my Papa?” Parker wrote in a Facebook post. More than a quarter of the U.S. population — and 28% of seniors — live alone. Social isolation can have serious downstream effects to people’s health, such as raising the risk of heart disease or stroke, and it’s estimated to cost the federal government $6.7 billion a year.

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