University students in the Netherlands are moving into care homes for the elderly to offer companionship and its helping dementia patients greatly
The nursing homes in the Netherlands have turned into university dorms. Dutch university students are moving in with the elderly. The nursing homes are offering rent free accommodation to students and in return they spend 30 hours a month interacting with the elderly.
The unique housing arrangements are actually benefiting the elderly greatly. The continious and interesting companionship is showing it’s benefits, especially in dementia patients. The companionship is decreasing loneliness and increasing the lifespan of the elderly.
The programme has seen students in their early twenties sharing lives with residents in their eighties and nineties. As part of their volunteer agreement, the students also spend time teaching residents new skills – like how to email, use social media, Skype, and even draw graffiti art.
The students also read well known poetry which the elderly would have learned word for word when they were younger. Reading and discussing literature are also hugely beneficial as the students can get help with course work and the discussions help the elderly exercise their brains.
Rhythm and rhyme bring a sense of order and predictability and, as this project has seen first-hand, poetry can spark memories previously unknown to carers and even to family members.
A 100-year-old resident found a shared play-reading session with one student volunteer revived long-buried leading-lady speeches once delivered when she was an actress.
The hope in the end is that once the university students graduate and move on that they will continue to volunteer at the homes. It is great to see such a beneficial programme for the elderly.