The BBC has used a new term- after a web-based advertisement went up looking for a “granny-sitter” for a spry 93-year-old grandmother who is active, loves her crossword puzzles, baking, and “singing old drinking songs”.

Ross Elder and his girlfriend realized that his grandmother was not thriving in an old age home after a stroke. The couple made the decision to move Ross’s grandmother in to an apartment in London England where they both worked, and posted an ad for a person to be a companion for her. The pay? In exchange for three days of care, free rent in the same apartment.

“We decided to rent a place overlooking the river that was much better for nearby walks and getting around,” Ross says. “We organised some professional care as we realised it would be a challenge but I wanted someone to be with her all the time.”

The couple had heard about the the Seniors Citizen arrangement in Deventer Holland where young students are offered free accommodation in exchange for providing thirty hours a month of companionship to seniors. The one proviso? The students could not annoy the seniors. Apparently it is an arrangement that has worked well for both parties, providing much-needed socialization and support.

Ross Elder has over 200 applications to review for a granny sitter. As he says “Loneliness is a huge problem and I never really realised the impact it can have. There are issues around safety to consider but young and old people cohabiting can help older people be more independent and even stay in their own homes.

In a city with an aging seniors’ population this could be a solution to provide companionship and support. Isobel Mackenzie the Seniors’ Advocate for the province has said that we need to think about redesigning our cities and inner city spaces to accommodate seniors with mobility and with mild dementia issues. Perhaps this model could be a first step.