WALLINGFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — It is early for Quinnipiac University graduate students to move in, and it is very early for them to move into the Masonicare at Ashlar Village assisted living facility, where all of the other residents are at least three times their age.
“I’ve been in the dorm room for the past four years, so it’s definitely going to be different,” grad student Elise Maiorano said. “It just seems like a whole new experience.”
Maiorano and Annemarie Allen are graduate students in the occupational therapy department at Quinnipiac. They will spend this school year living and working with residents of Masonicare.
“So, I feel like living in an independent living facility where there is a range of abilities throughout this facility and learning these individuals, helping them and gaining their independence is going to be a good thing,” Allen said.
“This living arrangement is not only the community itself; it’s all the experiences that take place,” said Rachael Laudano, the executive director of assisted living at Masonicare. “So, it’s the dining, recreation, all the pieces. It’s those one-on-one touch bases with the residents.”
The students-in-residence program started back in 2016. Then, in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic suddenly made it impossible to have college students work with residents. The students who were in residence then could not see their neighbors face-to-face, but they did make cards and activity packets to keep their spirits up.
Then, the program was on hold for three years. This is the first time students have been allowed back. How will it go now that it has resumed?
“Well, that’s hard to tell because the residents have been through a lot, and these girls are just about to begin it,” said Ben Page, a Masonicare resident who also spent years as a Quinnipiac University philosophy professor. “So, how much in common they’ll find, who knows? That’s partly what they’re experimenting on.”
The students don’t think it will be that different from the dorms.
“I just really think it’s going to be all the things I would do with my friends, with older adults,” Maiorano said. “We can have game nights and all that fun stuff, so I think it’s going to be very similar, honestly.”
Just maybe with earlier bedtimes for their new friends.