Jurrien Mentik’s housemates can range from their early 20s to their 90s and even 105 years old.
As SBS Dateline reported in a short documentary, Mentik’s experience is the result of a unique experiment at a Dutch retirement home — in which six students agreed to live rent-free at a retirement home near Amsterdam while, in return, spending at least 30 hours a month socializing with the older residents.
"I think that the students influence the whole tone of the conversation here," CEO Gea Sijpkes told SBS Dateline. "So that it’s not only about death, sickness, and old age, but also about youth, about parties, about girlfriends."
According to Sijpkes, it’s worked out well, creating a better environment for the older residents.
But the students said they have benefited too. "One experience that stuck with me was having a neighbor who was 104 and who reached 105," Mentik said. "In the end, when I was in her room, she suddenly gave me a hand. … She was in bed, and wished me a good life, to get the most out of it. She felt it was time to say goodbye, and she was right, because a few days later she had passed away. This sticks with me, because I didn't know it could be like that."
He added, "It's a nice feeling to help them find their final moments of happiness."