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Young woman hugging her grandmother

University Students In France Are Moving In With Senior Citizens! This headline made the news recently and it prompted me to wonder if any movement like this is occurring in the United States.

All societies are facing the increasing costs of care for the aging. I assume that all developed countries also face the high cost of housing, particularly for those on very limited budgets like college students.

Am I to believe that students in France have greater ingenuity than those in the United States? Or has someone created a matching program between those who need care and those who need affordable housing only in France? It seems like such an obvious solution for two groups who both need help and yet I have heard no conversation about this in the Atlanta area.

What I have heard in our area is that students continue to live at home and commute to classes which can be quite a burden as this takes time away from studies. I have also observed the tension within families as the hours college students keep do not match those accepted by parents, and quarters can get entirely too close.

I have also heard of seniors all over the country who insist on staying in their homes even when their loved ones feel that it is no longer safe to do so. The family tension from these conversations can be quite high as well.

Imagine now being the parent / child who has the pleasure of living with both of these situations and we begin to understand the term “sandwich generation.” Having lived through both settings I have a true appreciation for those who are experiencing this for extended periods of time.

So, what benefits could we all achieve when youngsters move in with oldsters? First, seniors could successfully stay in their homes longer with custodial help than on their own. The overriding wish of individuals as they age is to be able to stay in their familiar worlds rather than be placed in “the home.”

Second, loved ones can find some comfort in supervising their senior family member from a distance with local help in place. Third, the cost of this type of unskilled care should be quite a bit less than similar service offerings, which should allow families to continue to grow their financial resources for the time when it will truly be needed for skilled care.

And last, this could reduce some of the stress on Medicaid as a potentially smaller number of seniors may need to rely on this resource, or at least the need may be postponed.

I can imagine there are negatives to this arrangement, but the positives are large enough that I believe this model should be examined closely. Didn’t the French send us the Statue of Liberty which is a symbol of freedom? Perhaps their shared housing idea could provide greater freedom for some of our seniors.