Humanitas, a social service organization in the Netherlands, has come up with a brilliant model for helping students with their expenses and the elderly with the care and social interaction that they need to remain physically and psychologically healthy. In return for free lodging at a retirement home in the Dutch town of Deventer, six students will spend at least 30 hours a month with the 160 elderly residents living there, doing anything from helping prepare their meals and shopping with/for them to teaching them to use computers or even paint street art!

The program, spearheaded by Humanitas Deventer CEO Gea Sijpkes, has inspired social organizations elsewhere in Europe to explore similar opportunities as well!

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Students get free housing for spending time with elders at the retirement home

The students spend at least 30 hours a month eating, talking, shopping or even playing games with them

“It’s important not to isolate the elderly from the outside world,” said Gea Sijpkes, Humanitas Deventer CEO

“When you’re 96 years old with a knee problem, well, the knee isn’t going to get any better…”

“But what we can do is create an environment where you forget about the painful knee”