Student in southern Germany finds free digs – at seniors’ home

A young student has won a competition to live in a senior citizen's home for free. In return for spending time with the residents, she gets free room and board.

Student in southern Germany finds free digs - at seniors' home
Marit Meinhold. Photo: DPA

Since the autumn, Marit Meinhold has been living free of charge in an apartment in the senior citizens' residence “Tertianum” – and in return spends around 20 hours a month with the residents.

The 25-year-old gained her room in the old folks' home after beating a large group of other applicants.

She will live for one year in an apartment in the city centre, which according to “Tertianum” would normally cost €2,800. The room also comes with a cultural programme, a doorman and a three-course menu.

Her new flat mates – people like Barbara Closs, Heinz Zingler and Erika Doser, all of whom are over 80 years old – say they value their encounters with their young neighbour at lunch and other joint events.

Anna Schingen, the initiator of the project, explains that it is a matter of promoting intergenerational exchange. At the same time it is also a possibility to create attention with the action.

Gerontologist Sonja Ehret from the University of Heidelberg says that the project could work. In today's world, many people in old age feel like they are no longer needed, according to the researcher. They also experience loneliness when the rest of the family do not live in the same place as them.

An exchange between the generations could help here. Human encounters advance us and our minds. And they also offer some protection against depression and dementia,” said Ehret.

SEE ALSO: Calls grow for Germany to follow UK example and combat rising loneliness