Issue 2.20 – Students and Seniors

Charlie was out for a stroll one warm August morning, when he saw a sight that had become quite familiar in the past few days. Victor, the Novaks’ grandson, was helping Sunita and Aarav carry their groceries in. He’d been staying in the Novaks’ suite, and had become friendly with everyone.“Hi there, Mr. Stewart! How are you?” beamed Victor, as he left Sunita and Aarav’s suite.

“Morning, Victor! You joining us for pool again tonight?” replied Charlie, with a smile. He’d come to really like this charismatic young man, who was especially popular with the ladies. Charlie liked to think Victor reminded him of his own youth. Hazel laughed when he had said that.

“Absolutely!” said Victor. “I’ll have to get some practice in first. Who would have thought guys 50 years older than me would be schooling me in sports?”

“Well, I suppose you’ll have to miss your weekly dance class with the ladies, then!” “Heard you came down to the class in leotards last week! You certainly know how to make an entrance!” Charlie chuckled as he continued walking on his way.
Victor grinned. He’d been enjoying his time housesitting for Pop and Meemaw, as he affectionately called his grandparents. It had been quite the eye-opening experience. Growing up so close with his grandparents, Victor assumed that they were an anomaly. He’d actually felt a bit sad for them when they said they were moving to a seniors community – he thought they would be bored, with nothing much to do. So Victor was quite surprised when he came to the Manor. There was a constant array of activities, playing pool, taking fitness or recreation classes, or just relaxing with other residents at movie night or in the dining hall. The residents here also made the most of it all.

As he passed the guest suite, Victor knocked to say hello to Deanna. He hadn’t seen her in a few days, and wanted to make sure she was doing alright. Hearing no response, he continued along his way.

On the way back to his grandparents’ suite, he ran into Hazel. “Hello, dear!” she smiled. Hazel always made Victor feel safe and warm. “Hi Mrs. Stewart. I just saw your husband.” “Oh yes,” replied Hazel. “He goes out for walks in the mornings to enjoy the weather when it’s nice. You never know when the cold and rain will move in.”

“Absolutely!” said Victor “You know, I’m moving to Montreal in a few weeks. I’m starting a Masters program at McGill University. I must say, the winters will be quite cold, but I think after getting so spoiled staying here, the biggest change for me will be adapting to dorm living.”

Victor truly admired his grandparents’ new home. It was more than just living in nice accommodations; it was the sense of community and energy. Most of the residents approached Victor as soon as they saw him to ask how he was doing and to make him feel welcome. A number of them said how much they enjoyed his company, and that they wanted to create more opportunities for young people to visit. There was even talk among some residents of organizing weekly activities at the Manor with young people for the senior residents to pass on their skills and teach them cooking and baking, sewing, simple mechanics, gardening, or other useful skills.

“You know,” said Hazel in her usual gentle manner. “A friend of mine near Calgary lives in a seniors community that also rents some rooms out to students in return for them to spend time and give some volunteer hours in the residence. Maybe they have something like that in Montreal?”

“Really!?” exclaimed Victor. “How interesting! I’ll definitely have to find out.” The prospect of living in an inter-generational community was definitely intriguing.

Hazel waved goodbye, and Victor continued on his way.

Hazel returned back to her room where Charlie was sitting on the couch watching the news. She stood there lost in thought. When she came to, Charlie was staring at her from his seat on the couch. “Sorry darling, did you say something?” Hazel gave a sheepish smile. Charlie chuckled, “I said, it looks like you have something on your mind?” Hazel laughed and sat next to Charlie. “I think having Victor here has been beneficial not just for him but for everyone here at the Manor. Don’t you think? Everyone seems to be so much happier. Did you know that the seniors community Carol lives in rents out rooms to students? I’ve heard it is a huge success and has reduced loneliness in the seniors community. Do you think we could have something like that here?” Charlie laughed and placed his hand on Hazel’s knee. “I’m sure it couldn’t hurt to bring it up at our next meeting.”
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Having Victor at the Manor has been beneficial for everyone there, even Victor! Social Isolation can have a big impact on seniors. It can be hard for family or friends outside the community to visit often, and not everyone has their spouse or significant other to live with to keep them company like Charlie and Hazel do. Do you know anyone that lives in or of any seniors housing that rents rooms out to students? What do you think of this solution? Do you think it’s a good idea? Could there be any negative effects or unintended consequences?

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