I am currently studying photojournalism as part of an exchange program at the Danish School of Media and Journalism in Aarhus, Denmark. We had the assignment to do a magazine project with the theme ”The Human Condition”. I began to do a lot of research focusing on the topic of aging. I discovered two projects where students were given the opportunity to live in an elderly home, one in Deventer, Netherlands and “A Home That Fits” in Helsinki, Finland.
I emailed the project manager in Finland, Miki Mielonen, and told him about my idea of doing a photojournalistic story about the project, which started because of the housing shortage for students and the expensive rents in Helsinki. Not even 24 hours later he told me he was interested in hearing more about it. After a couple of days of planning and talking to Miki, I booked the flights to Helsinki and the journey started. It was my first time in Finland.
I came to the Rudolf Seniors Home and everyone was very welcoming and friendly. I spent some time with two of the students living there, Serafina and Mikko, and joined them while they were visiting some of their elderly neighbors. At first I thought the language barrier between the seniors and I would be a problem but with the help of the students I was able to interview them. This photojournalistic project was a combination of portraits of both young and elderly people, pictures of them interacting and also information about the project and the people living in this seniors home.
All in all I stayed one week in Helsinki and got a good insight into ”A Home That Fits”. It was a nice experience to come to Helsinki for the first time, as it is a beautiful city and the project isn’t very common in other countries yet. I believe this project could set an example for other elderly homes around the world. Not only is it an opportunity for students to live affordably, it’s also important for both generations to spend more time together and to share experiences. Based on what I heard from the elderly people I spoke with, they really like this project and enjoy spending time with the young people. They even wish they would have more time with them.
Text and photos by Christine Simon.
Read Christine’s article Mixed generations