College students move in with seniors; Senior citizens, that is

WALLINGFORD, Conn. (WTNH) – Tuesday was moving in day for a couple of Quinnipiac University students. They are not moving into a dorm, however. They are moving to the Masonicare assisted living facility in Wallingford. It’s a joint project they call the “Students in Residence” program.

“I already feel so at home here, and I’m really excited about how it just feels like everybody is happy,” said Quinnipiac undergraduate student Sarah Cullen.

Cullen and graduate student Kevin Currie volunteered to live in this very different environment.

“Just to learn from senior citizens and hopefully they can learn a thing or two from me as well,” Currie said.

This is the second year of the program, and what they learned from the first year is that the generations have more in common than you think.

“Some of the 80-year-olds are reading the gossip magazine just like the 20-year-olds are,” explained Grace Giannini, Masonicare’s Memory Care Resource Coordinator. “Everybody gets people, so it’s just people knowing people.”

For the college students, it is not just about learning what it is like to live among people their grandparents’ age. They are also learning things that could be useful in their professional lives once they are done with school.

“Professionally, as an occupational therapy major, I think it’s kind of great to have this background knowledge of what life is like on a day to day basis,” Cullen said.

And what is life like for a 20-something living with 80-somethings? This year’s students spoke to last year’s students and they liked what they heard.

“Baking classes and I think that there was a men’s club that I had heard about, and just different card games that they learned that they may not have knows about,” said Currie.

Plus, there is the learning about the people themselves. Once they are done moving in, they can start making connections.

“I got a chance to live with my grandmother for the last 10 or so years of her life and that was such a special moment, and I’m just really looking forward to cherishing those moments again with the residents here as well,” Currie said

Something the residents will certainly cherish as well in the months ahead.

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