When people age and eventually move into retirement and nursing homes, they may feel isolated from the rest of the world. And if they feel isolated, they may feel lonely. And if they feel lonely, their health may suffer.
That’s why Humanitas, a retirement home in Deventer, Netherlands, welcomed six college students into their residence.
“When you’re 96 years old with a knee problem, well, the knee isn’t going to get any better, the doctors can’t do much,” said CEO Gea Sijpkes. “But what we can do is create an environment where you forget about the painful knee.”
And that’s exactly what they have done. In exchange for rent-free housing, the young men and women of Humanitas spend thirty hours per month with the 160 elderly tenants. Their activities vary. They talk, play games, watch sports, shop…one student even gives computer lessons!
So the elderly are kept company, which improves their physical and mental health. Meanwhile, the younger generation gets a free place to live—an excellent perk, seeing as student housing tends to be cramped, dirty, and pricy. It’s a win-win situation all around.
Though Humanitas isn’t the first retirement home to conjure up this brilliant idea, they have inspired other European retirement/nursing homes to jump on board with similar arrangements. Hopefully we’ll continue to see more of these programs cropping up in the future.
You can help at your local retirement center, too.
Even if you don’t have this type of program where you live, you can still provide company for seniors. Contact a nursing home near you and ask if you can visit the people there. They probably won’t say no, and the residents will probably appreciate it. And who knows? You might just make a new friend!
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