Japan is now promoting a new and better way of bridging the gap between the elderly and young people. The country’s boarding program allows an elderly citizen and a college student to live together, thus avoiding isolation while meeting their practical needs.
With the country’s ageing population, most of the senior citizens are left alone in their house. Though not in need of nursing care, living alone inevitably makes an elderly feel lonely. With limited strength, they are also in need of some assistance for some tasks like shoveling the lawn during winter. Sachio Yamamoto, an 83-year old living in the city of Fukui allowed 19-year old Shusuke Kondo to be his border in January. “I feel encouraged,” Yamamoto revealed. “I feel merry and peaceful now.”
The government of Fukui Prefecture partnered with the Fukui University to launch the boarding program between elderly and their students. Yamamoto is said to be the first elderly to accept a tenant. Kondo was from Osaka Prefecture and also lived alone, but he said that he enjoys the company of his elderly landlord.
Only senior citizens who are not in need of nursing care are allowed to be part of the boarding program. House rules and other miscellaneous concerns are agreed between the landlord and the tenant while rents usually cost 20,000 yen (approx. 200 US dollars) every month. Although additional income is gained by the elderly participants, Associate Professor Yoshinobu Kikuchi of Fukui University reminded that the program aims for the elderly and young people to have “loose mutual support.”