June 15th, 2024

Retirement home taking in students

By Gillian Slade on June 29, 2018.

The Villa, a Medicine Hat retirement community on Fourth Street SE, is taking in students as well as seniors now, creating an intergenerational facility. Residents stand at the entrance chatting on Thursday morning.ÊFrom left are Jonathan Pfeifer, Elaine Anton senior and manager Lorraine Dalla-Longa.--NEWS PHOTO GILLIAN SLADE


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No longer is a certain retirement complex exclusively for seniors.

The Villa, Medicine Hat’s retirement complex on Fourth Street SE has begun accepting students as residents, too, says manager Lorraine Dalla-Longa.

They had some extra rooms and noticed there was positive feedback at a seniors’ facility in Sweden that was taking in students, she explained.

“We put a few ads out there — Kijiji, Facebook — and then we started getting new students,” said Dalla-Longa.

Students have to have an interview before being accepted as residents. Many are accompanied by their parents for the interview, she explained. They are required to have a police check and must abide by the rules, which include no smoking, minimal drinking and they have to be mature, said Dalla-Longa. No pets are allowed and there is to be no parties.

“It’s kind of a study place for them,” said Dalla-Longa, noting there are four students already living at The Villa.

More students are expected in August.

Part of the agreement with students residing at The Villa is for them to mingle with the residents. Once a month they are also asked to give a talk to the residents about what they are studying and their interests, said Dalla-Longa.

The benefits of inter-generational living have been well documented in research. It can be stimulating for seniors to mix with younger people.

For the most part seniors living at The Villa are pleased with the student residents, while a couple are still getting used to the change, said Dalla-Longa.

“There are one or two that prefer just to be around seniors … but the majority of them like the young students.”

The students generally are not around The Villa during the day. They get a lunch and come home to a healthy cooked meal at night. They also like the peace and quite at night while they are studying, said Dalla-Longa. The location is ideal, just half a block away from the transit terminal. It is also within easy walking distance to downtown stores and a park.

Dalla-Longa says the ideal ratio of seniors to students would probably be 70:30.

“I wouldn’t mind having about 10 students here,” said Dalla-Longa. “They are really nice.”

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