Attending university is very stressful for students as they must find a balance between studies, work and expenses. Finding decent housing can be very costly and challenging in many areas of the world. Senior citizens often find themselves searching for suitable housing that also provides for their medical and social needs. A Dutch organization came up with the perfect plan to help both groups.
Called Humanitas, the program consists of a retirement home that also offers shelter to students. One year ago, six young people from both Windesheim and Saxion universities in the Netherlands took up residence in the home. They were permitted to live there without paying rent in exchange for 30 hours of service to the seniors, which consisted of activities, workshops and friendly conversation. The students taught the seniors basic computer and smartphone skills to help them better keep in touch with their families. The seniors helped the young people gain perspective through experience and good advice.
One of the students said the largest benefit of spending time with seniors is the happiness it brings them. Their moods improve, and learning new skills gives them a feeling of accomplishment.
A similar idea is in place at the Judson Smart Living home in Cleveland, Ohio. Students from the nearby Cleveland Institute of Music live at the home and provide a cultural program for the senior residents. Several close and loving friendships have developed between the students and seniors despite the wide difference in age. One young woman even invited a resident to be a flower girl when she got married.
These two programs, along with more that are being developed in Spain, France and other countries, are building bridges between the generations and creating more positive and productive communities.