Juniper Rowethorpe residents have been thriving in the Senior Citizen Partnership program run by Curtin University. The first of its kind in Australia, the program immerses Curtin Medical School students in a five-year-long holistic approach to studying healthy aging.

Curtin Medical School Senior Lecturer Dr Ute Hauck, who is the program’s academic lead and coordinator, said, “It’s a holistic program that we want to introduce students to healthy aging and make them aware of the opportunities and challenges of our seniors in society.”

“They look to see what support you have, if you have hobbies, they want to know what your life is like and how it has changed as a senior. This helps the students better understand the older population with practical learning,” said Dr Hauck.

The program is proving to be a huge success, with residents and students forming strong bonds and learning from one another.

94-year-old Rowethorpe resident Joan Dench said, “I feel like I have two new granddaughters, it’s lovely. One of our students went to India for a wedding and when she came back, we sat down and watched all her family videos. It felt like we were there with her.”

Joan started participating in the program in 2017 with her husband, and although her students have now graduated from university, she stays in contact.

“I went to both their graduations and met their parents and their families. They still visit me when they can and throughout COVID-19 we spoke on the phone, they are so caring,” said Joan.

The Senior Citizen Partnership program is a great initiative that promotes intergenerational connections and helps create a community that values and respects seniors. It is an excellent example of how education can go beyond textbooks and lectures to create impactful and meaningful relationships that enhance the learning experience.

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