Nursing Home Gives College Students Free Housing in Exchange for Being Nice to Old People

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Aging can be scary. After a certain point, our bodies stop being able to do things we used to take for granted. Even our brains can stop working as well as we think they should. And the world keeps on advancing in new and frightening ways that it seems difficult to keep up with. There are tons of adult women out there now who don’t know how to use cell phones or manage their Facebook privacy settings, and someday something like that will come for us. I don’t know what it will be, maybe Snapchat, maybe hoverboards, but something will come that everyone knows how to use but me, and I’ll be stuck on the outside.

And one of the worst parts about aging is the way the rest of the world can sometimes treat old people. It’s like after a certain point you’re just put off somewhere in storage, like the old couch that even Craigslist doesn’t want. But we’re still social people who thrive on human interaction, and that sort of thing can be awful. Now one Dutch nursing home has figured out a way to do a really nice thing for two different groups of people who could each use different kinds of support, because now it’s offering rent-free housing for nice college students on the grounds that they be “good neighbors” with the older people living in the facility.

It’s a pretty great combination. Young people get assistance while they’re trying to finish their studies, and according to PBS, the elderly residents benefit a lot from the interaction with the students, which helps them feel less disconnected and lonely.

Six students have taken advantage of the free housing, and they’re allowed to come and go just like any student in off-campus housing. In exchange for the free housing, each is expected to spend at least 30 hours a week month being nice to the nursing home residents. It’s not a hard gig, either. “Being neighborly,” consists of things like watching sports with the older residents, celebrate birthdays, and visit their neighbors when they fall ill. Having young people to hang out with and to check in on them and pay attention to them helps prevent that feeling of having been “shelved,” which can lead to depression and increased mortality in elderly people.

There have not reportedly been any problems with students turning the nursing home into a frat house. In fact, it’s sort of working the other way around. This is turning out to be a great opportunity for students who wanted to avoid the noise and garbage and general poor housing conditions and high expense associated with student apartments. It’s pretty much a win-win for everybody involved.

H/T Scary Mommy