Being a university student these days is very costly, and then if you live away from home and have to pay rent, depending on where you live, you may have to work and study day and night just to get by.
In the Netherlands, students can pay €366 (US$411) each month on rent and, just last year, Amsterdam was short by almost 9000 student rooms.
Then, on the other end, you have nursing homes facing their own difficulties. The Dutch government decided to stop funding care for citizens aged over 80 who weren’t in dire need, which resulted in the elderly not able to afford the costs and fewer people seeking care, making it difficult for the nursing homes to stay running.
Humanitas, a residential care center — and a long-term care facility in the riverside town of Deventer, Netherlands — has come up with a solution that has not only solved financial problems, but has changed the elderly and the university students lives for the better.
Students are able to stay there free-of-charge in exchange for 30 hours of volunteer work per month.
The Atlantic writes: “That’s when I thought of a group of other people — in this case, students — that also don’t have much money,” says Gea Sijpkes, the director and CEO of Humanitas.
“If they could get a room in Humanitas, they wouldn’t have to borrow so much money for their study.
“At the same time, I have some young people in the house — which makes Humanitas the warmest and nicest home in which everybody who needs care would want to live.”
Students interact with the residents, teaching them all the things their younger generation knows, such as how to use a computer, using social media, sending emails, using Skype — and even drawing graffiti.
The students share their experiences outside of the home with the residents, and the students even draw on the elderly generation’s knowledge of life, talking to them about their relationship problems.
In this video, students at Humanitas show a very different approach to staff at the nursing home:
The students also play a very critical role in the home, with the elderly having close personal relationships with them. One night at Humanitas, one of the students, Mentink, had to help settle a patient after she had attacked a staff member and the staff couldn’t gain control.
“When she saw me, it was like [turning] 180 degrees around,” Mentink recalls.
“She was instantly relaxed and happy to see me.”
Mentink had gotten to know her while giving her computer help. They spent the rest of the night watching Dirty Dancing before Mentink headed off to work, writes The Atlantic.
Two more nursing homes in the Netherlands have also started following Humanitas’ intergenerational living model. In Lyon, France, a similar program was introduced, and in the United States, students from the Cleveland Institutes of Art and Music have been boarding at the Judson Manor retirement community with amazing results.
Preschools have also followed a similar model, with nursing homes being combined with a preschool. The elderly suffer from mental decline due to isolation and loneliness.
With university students living in nursing homes and having preschools in nursing homes, it has made a significant difference in both the elderly and the younger generations’ lives.