Growing older involves many changes and considerations that aren’t usually priorities in the first fifty years of a person’s life. In a world where health and medicine focus more than ever on helping men and women live longer, senior citizens find themselves seeking a way to not just survive their final years, but thrive in them. Rather than the loneliness and isolation often portrayed as coming with old age, advocates across the world are now devising unique and creative ways to give retirees their real golden years.
Students Living in Nursing Homes
A Dutch nursing home recently launched a groundbreaking program that offers university students free rent in exchange for something equally as valuable: 30 hours of time each month spent “acting as neighbors” with the residents of the nursing home. As 19 and 20 years olds spend time with men and women in their 80s and 90s, the benefits speak for themselves. First and foremost, the nursing home residents enjoy richer social interactions, which in turn minimizes loneliness and improves well being. University students can read poetry to the elderly, teach them how to use social technology, and generally introduce an air of youthfulness that is often sorely lacking in nursing home environments.
The most common retiree communities are gated subdivisions and large homes overlooking golf courses, both of which require automobile transportation and are often isolated from the surrounding community. As more senior citizens express the desire to live independently without the need for an automobile, the idea is blooming for walkable, urban retirement communities. It’s no secret that Fitbit technology and health trends have popularized the idea of a walkable lifestyle, but the perks for retirees go above and beyond being trendy. Living in a connected, pedestrian community can strengthen social engagement, health, and overall quality of life.
While neither of these trends have become widespread yet, it’s inspiring to know that senior citizens do have unique alternatives, regardless of their financial situation, to embrace their years of retirement.