We are living longer but loneliness and isolation can be a problem for many elderly people. I have recently heard of a couple of interesting projects that seek to deal with this whilst also solving another pressing issue. Helsinki City Council and a nursing home in Deventer, Netherlands, are tackling the challenge of a lack of student accommodation and the impact of loneliness on the elderly by finding a clever solution that works for both. Helsinki Council is offering young people the chance to rent a cheap apartment in an old people’s home, if they agree to spend time socialising with the elderly residents. The project manager Miki Mielonen says “We are looking for young people who maybe have a different perspective on everyday life, who will bring variety and recreation to the elderly residents.” This interaction between generations is so often sadly lacking; each has much to offer the other but the opportunities where old and young can share time have become less and less in our compartmentalized modern world.
In exchange for small, rent-free apartments, the Humanitas nursing home in Deventer is allowing university students to live rent-free alongside the elderly residents. The students are required to spend at least 30 hours per month acting as good neighbours. It is hoped that the interaction will help to counteract the negative effects of aging, where lack of company and stimulation are known to lead to mental and physical decline. It is also great for young people to have access to the wisdom and experience that old people possess.
Hopefully, this idea will catch on – it’s a fabulous solution that has the potential to benefit all involved in profound and life-enriching ways. If you want to read more about these project click here