David Dulberg
August 2018

Intergenerational Housing: Creating Student and Senior Wealth

So, you are in college and you are choosing to live with 80-somethings in a nursing home?

Yes, you are. Here’s why.

According to a report by Generations United, there is a gentle wave of intergenerational housing rippling across the nation.  And, get this, it is beneficial to both the very old and the very young.

Here are some of the ways intergenerational housing works:

In some cases, students live rent-free in nursing homes in exchange for services like grocery shopping or shoveling snow. Or, students rent living space in nursing homes for below market rates with no formal exchange of services.

Benefits of Different Generations Living Together

The report found that the elderly benefited from the interactions with young adults by counteracting the damaging health risks associated with isolation. Students, on the other hand, gain empathy for the experiences of other, improve their ability to regulate their behavior, and secure inexpensive living arrangements.

Intergenerational housing can greatly offset the housing costs of attending college. This can lead to less student loan debt, which, in turn, can mean transitioning from college to the work without the heavy burden of student loans.

These shared arrangements:

  • confront ageism
  • provide a barrier against isolation
  • create long-lasting and life-changing intergenerational bonds
  • add purpose and meaning to the lives of young and old

Nearly 40 percent of grandparents live more than 500 miles away from their grandchildren. Intergenerational interaction reduces loneliness for older adults and increases levels of engagement for dementia patients. Among the elderly who participated in such programs, 97 percent indicated that it made them feel happier, engaged, loved, more energetic, and needed.

Program Fosters Intergenerational Connection

A new group of programs like the Intergenerational Housing Solutions in Housing (IHSH) roll out next fall. IHSH matches graduate students in social work with older Americans who have a spare room in their home. These students are excellent candidates to live with the elderly since they have high levels of empathy, altruism, and maturity.

Although not every student is willing to give up living amongst their peers, for those who do, the experience can be powerful. Though now it is uncommon, throughout history, we have lived intergenerationally much longer than we haven’t. The generational connection is important and we are much more compatible with each other than we imagine.

Resources are generated when generations are connected rather than separated. Instead of student debt, student wealth is created in the form of increased understanding and appreciation.

Maybe you could think of it like this:

That gentle wave of intergenerational housing? It is just like the gentle wave of someone’s nana, sweetly smiling hello when you get home from a long, challenging day at school.

Options are available to help

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David Dulberg

David Dulberg lives with his wife in the coastal hills above a narrow creek, mid-canopy in a redwood forest. He has been writing for non-profits for many years, and volunteers as a pilot on the Baum Squad, a tandem bike riding program for the Earle Baum Center for the Blind. He does not have a pet. This does not make him a bad person.

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