Growing old sometimes scares us. Reaching an old age is dreadful for others because they don’t want to be confined in a place–not being able to do the things they want unlike when they were younger, no family to take care of them or worst being left alone in a retirement home which could be very frustrating.
However, a social service organization in the Netherlands called ‘Humanitas’ came up with a brilliant and beneficial idea to help the elderly people. Not only are they making a big difference by implementing such program but they also get to help students with their expenses. In return for the free accommodation at a Dutch retirement home in Deventer, six chosen students should spend at least 30 hours a month with 160 elderly residents–interact with them, help serve their meals, teach them how to use computers and many other activities that they can still do and enjoy despite their age.
University students get free housing in exchange for interacting with the elderly residents.
‘They go see the pensioners for a chat, they play games, go with them to the shopping center and do shopping for those who can’t,’ says activity coordinator Arjen Meihuizen.
According to Gea Sijpkes, head of the Humanitas Retirement home, ‘It’s important not to isolate the elderly from the outside world.’
Students must attend events like birthday parties, hang out or simply chat with them.
Attending events like residents’ birthday parties, hanging out or simply chatting are just some of the activities both young and old ones from the retirement home enjoy doing together.
‘When you’re 96 years old with a knee problem, well, the knee isn’t going to get any better, the doctors can’t do much. But what we can do is create an environment where you forget about the painful knee.’
The students bring the outside world in, there are lots of warmth in the contact.
‘Care homes that are cut off from their communities aren’t real homes.’
This program has also influenced several social organizations in Europe to consider the same option. Hence, they have succeeded in innovating a retirement home that is conducive for everyone.
A win-win situation indeed!
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