A retirement home in the Netherlands has created a unique senior living situation where seniors and young adults live under one roof.

In 2012, the Dutch government discontinued funding for retirement communities for healthy seniors aged 80 and over. Seniors who were not in critical condition were then forced to pay to stay at their retirement community if they wished to continue living there.

Of course, the cost of these retirement homes was too great and many seniors decided against them altogether. As a result, long-term care facilities struggled to make ends meet with fewer prospects and fewer residents.

Concurrently, the average rent for college students in the Netherlands is over 400 (US) dollars. As the housing for students continued to rise, the need for affordable housing increased.

The result? Humanitas – a retirement community – has opened its doors to college students.

However, that’s not the most incredible part. The best part of this story is the students do not pay rent, instead, they dedicate 30 hours a month to the care of the elderly residents. They socialize, play games, and teach them useful skills. This gives respite for the caregivers working double time and also gives seniors a chance to get involved in younger generations’ lives.

Once again, another senior housing community has found a way to incorporate the generational-gap into their fold.

What This Means

Hopefully, we see more hybrid communities (like the one in the Netherlands) appear across the world. This is the perfect kind of setting and situation for both parties. College-bound students are looking for affordable housing and many prospective students require hours of community service. Making the college students work to pay rent instead of giving them the option of paying a fee makes sure that they’re engaging with the seniors and sparing much needed breaks to the caregivers.

Caregivers work hundreds of unpaid hours every year and the profession has fewer and fewer people signing up. As a result, the world desperately needs more nurses, and if that wasn’t a struggle enough, more seniors (than ever before) are going to be retiring over the next 25 years – thanks to the Baby Boomers.

This community service in place of rent helps acclimate young adults to the older generation, something that is sorely lacking in most of America. In Seattle, there have been communities that combine preschools with senior homes and they’ve met with success. Having different sources of engagement is a good way to keep the brain stimulated – instead of being engaged in the same conversation with the same group of people every day.

By creating a hybrid housing community, the Netherlands have conquered the generational gap, the socializing issue, and solved the seniors’ care needs.

With any luck, this inclusion will inspire future leaders in gerontology.