In the Netherlands, and now spreading across the United States, universities and retirement homes are now offering students to live with the elderly for free. In return, they are to spend a minimum of thirty hours a month providing good company for the elderly living in these retirement homes.
The ‘Humanitas’ retirement home requires these students to act “as good neighbours” (Reed, 2015), accompanying the older residents by watching sports, celebrating birthdays and ultimately, build a friendly relationship with the older generation. With this scheme being offered, students have the ability to learn about their history and the elderly are able to learn about the current generation and the issues we have today. Building such a relationship brings these two gaping generations together where each side humanises each other as conversations continue.
With this approach to the ageing community, our generation can learn respect, chivalry and history that would benefit ourselves in the future. The elderly are able to learn the issues and problem’s we’re currently dealing with and can begin to understand the way the world is currently working. From a 2012 report by the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, there is a correlation between the elderly’s morality and their sense of isolation and loneliness (Reed, 2015). By implementing this scheme students are able to boost morality through conversation and activities with the older generation. By having the youth and the elderly connecting with one another, “the young ones bring the outside world inside” (Karvelas, 2015) into the retirement home, improving morality and social isolation.
For the university students, they’re able to have free accommodation with a wonderful trade off at a time when housing and the cost of living is exponentially increasing. The youth are able to gain new insight, perspectives and understand the condition of the world before we were born. By developing an intergenerational friendship, university students will learn about respect and be able to humanise and connect with the elderly, perhaps in engaging questions we wouldn’t dare to ask our grandparents.
‘Humanitas’ plan of embracing the youth with the elderly is a very unique and effective way for us students to understand the elderly and for the elderly to feel young again. Many more retirement homes and universities across the world are promoting intergenerational friendships, allowing both sides can learn from each other about the past, present and future.
Karvelas, P. 2015, Dutch nursing home lets students live free, Radio National. viewed 4 November 2016, <http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/drive/dutch-retirement-home-lets-students-live-rent-free/6351450>.
Reed, C. 2015, Dutch nursing home offers rent-free housing to students, PBS NewsHour. viewed 5 November 2016, <http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/dutch-retirement-home-offers-rent-free-housing-students-one-condition/>.