Young out-of-city Italian students are moving in with old-aged people in order to save money in exchange for some light domestic wok, an initiative that is also helping elderly population fight loneliness.
The trend is fast catching on in Milan, one of the most expensive cities in Italy. Here the city administration is helping young Italian students find an affordable shelter in the form of an opportunity to stay with senior citizens in need of human company.
The “Take Home a Student” project, has been initiated by MeglioMilano, or “Better Milan”, a non-profit organization that has paired more than 600 elderly with young students since its inception in 2004. The organization is working to provide affordable accommodation to Italian students with Milanese elders who have spare rooms at their residence. Under this initiative, the students are required to assist the elderly in house chores, along with spending quality time with them.
This initiative has been fruitful in demonstrating the benefits of inter-generational home-sharing and its impact on the overall wellbeing of the elderly and the young, along with raising awareness about isolation and its prevalence among different age groups.
According to organizers, this activity has helped in creating a “virtuous circle” that not only provides companionship to elderly but also provides a peaceful and conducive study environment to youngsters looking for a pocket-friendly accommodation.
Milanese universities accommodate almost 180,000 students, with 72 percent among them out-of-city students who look for quality temporary residence. At the same time, almost 320,000 people aged over 65 have pretty large accommodations, much bigger than their housing needs.
Older women in Milan mostly host female students and the average stay lasts between eight to 10 months. Students who participated in this initiative said the most evident advantages of staying with different generation includes gaining knowledge and a feeling of usefulness, along with learning more about the city from the host.
The World Economic Forum estimates that by 2020, the global population of those over 60 will reach over 1 billion. According to the European Union, the estimated share of individuals aged 80 or over will double by 2080, to touch 13 percent of the entire population. In the EU bloc, Italy and Germany had the highest median age in the year 2017, at 22.3 percent and 45.9 years respectively. These researches highlight the variation within global demographics, leading to higher age expectancy rates in majority of countries.
Numerous researches and reports also highlight the prevalence of mental health issues among the old, forcing the governments to intervene and take necessary steps. Researchers in the US have warned people about the threats posed by “loneliness epidemic”, while the UK has elected a “Minister for Loneliness”. Initiatives like Better Milan cannot only help in catering the needs of the young, by providing them affordable shelters but can also assist the elderly in fighting loneliness, allowing them companionship of the younger lot.