Ageing photo filter makes this GP ‘appy

by | Jul 25, 2019

UK doctor says the popular FaceApp may help the young users reflect on ‘loneliness epidemic’

By Carmel Sparke

Amid the outcry over a social media app that ages its users, at least one GP has welcomed the grey and wrinkled images appearing across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Millions have seen themselves morphing into old age by downloading FaceApp, a smartphone app that transforms photos using artificial intelligence.

Many have queried privacy aspects surrounding the app as it demands “irrevocable access” to users’ photos, but UK GP Dr Sayyada Mawji has welcomed its appearance as a chance to consider issues surrounding caring for the elderly.

Bringing young people face-to-face with their future could spark conversations about the “loneliness epidemic” and how best to care for older people, she writes in an opinion piece for the French news site Euronews.

“Most younger people are in denial about old age, doing almost nothing to prepare for it. We spend our 20s socialising, and our 30s and 40s working. We rarely have a chance to plan for the future,” she writes.

As a GP, she says she sees the loneliness epidemic developing.

“Elderly patients come to see me with no particular ailment, no clear medical issue,” she says.

“After a few minutes of the consultation, I understand why: they’re not sick, and often they don’t feel sick.

“They just need someone — anyone — to talk to.

“Even if they do not necessarily manifest as a specific mental or physical illness, these challenges are serious.”

The health effects of loneliness are real, “but it does not come with enough health warnings”.

Dr Mawji argued that caring for the elderly needed to be treated the same way as caring for children and that employers should treat the obligations of someone with an elderly parent the same way they do fore parents of a newborn.

“I hope FaceApp’s 13 million new users will reflect on that — whatever their age.”