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Nursing Home Doubles as Student Dorm
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Nursing Home Doubles as Student Dorm

More retirement and nursing homes are asking college students to move in, an arrangement that benefits everyone.
Mentink is one of six students living at Residential and Care Center Humanitas, a long-term care facility in the riverside town of Deventer in the eastern part of the Netherlands. In exchange for 30 hours of volunteer work per month, students are able to stay in vacant rooms there free of charge, reports an article in citylab.com.
Students in the Netherlands spend an average of roughly $410 (360 euros) each month on rent, up from 341 euros in 2012. Student housing is often cramped or dingy, and is increasingly difficult to come by. Amsterdam, for instance, was short of almost 9,000 student rooms last year.
Meanwhile, long-term care facilities in the country have their own problems. In 2012, the Dutch government decided to stop funding continuing care costs for citizens over the age of 80 who weren’t in dire need. A large group of aging adults, who had once benefited from a free all-inclusive ticket to a home like Humanitas, found they were unable to shoulder the costs.
The new ruling resulted in fewer people seeking long-term care communities, making it difficult for them to stay afloat. In order for Humanitas to survive in this new environment, it needed a unique selling point; one that wouldn’t cost residents more than what they were already paying.
“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, director and CEO at Humanitas.
 Teaching Skills
As part of their volunteer agreement, Mentink and the other students spend time teaching residents new skills, like email, social media, Skyping, and even graffiti art.
For the residents, the students represent a connection to the outside world. When students come home from a class, concert, or an outdoor activity, they share those experiences with their elderly neighbors. The conversation moves from aches and pains to whether a student’s friend will be staying the night.
Research links loneliness to mental decline and increased mortality, and regular social interaction with friends and family has been found to improve health in older adults. Saying hello, sharing a joke, bringing fish from the market, it’s the little joys of everyday life that the students bring to the seniors at Humanitas.
The intergenerational living model is beginning to gain in popularity. Since Humanitas opened its doors to students in 2012, two more nursing homes in the Netherlands have followed suit. And a similar program was recently introduced in Lyon, France.

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