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Like crashing at Grandma's? Students to bunk with elderly

Agencies | Updated: 2017-01-04 08:54

Under the plan, the first group of students will all be placed in one building where many elderly tenants have spare rooms. University Settlement is looking for a building near NYU's Greenwich Village location with a high concentration of low-income seniors with extra space.

The students will not be caregivers for their hosts, but may pitch in on small chores like changing a lightbulb or carrying laundry from one room to another.

"We're trying to identify buildings where the financial contribution from students will be meaningful to the seniors," Weingartner says. "The part that's more nuanced is the impact of having companionship for both the senior and the students."

The NYU initiative does not exactly replicate anything else in the United States, though there are other programs that house young people with seniors.

At Housing Opportunities and Maintenance for the Elderly's two intergenerational sites in Chicago, college-age resident assistants serve as helpers for their older neighbors.

Unlike the NYU students, who will not be expected to work, the young people in the Chicago residences spend about 20 hours a week on chores, including cooking and cleaning, program director Janet Takehara says.

She says the two age groups get along well.

"They plan activities. They decorate for the holidays together. They go on outings together," Takehara says. "It's very much an intergenerational friendship."

Jim McGough, who is 72 and moved into one of the Chicago residences in August, says he invited the resident assistants to watch the Cubs' triumphant postseason run in his room.

He relished the chance to explain baseball to one of the assistants who is from Germany.

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