“It was a match straight away!”  The beautiful story of Zineb and Françoise, roommates despite the age difference

“It was a match straight away!” The beautiful story of Zineb and Françoise, roommates despite the age difference

the essential Intergenerational cohabitation is a form of housing where young people occupy a room with elderly people in exchange for being at home and some services. Zineb and Françoise met through this means. Story of a life together that works.

The complicity that unites Zineb and Françoise is palpable as soon as we cross the threshold of their home. This “at home” is Françoise’s house, where Zineb has occupied a room for almost two years as part of an intergenerational cohabitation.

Arriving in Albi for a work-study program, Zineb, studying engineering, was looking for accommodation. The housing-for-service formula appealed to her: it wasn’t expensive, and, for her who studies in the Basque Country and grew up in Morocco, it made her feel less alone in the region. She therefore contacted a structure which put her in contact with Françoise.

Françoise has Parkinson’s disease. Advised by a friend, she decided to welcome a young person into her home. “Seeing that I had more needs, I told myself that I could try. I tried and I won”, she laughs, looking at Zineb affectionately.

A daily life for two

The principle of intergenerational cohabitation is simple. People over 60 make a room available in their accommodation to young people (between 20 and 30 years old), who, in exchange, ensure a presence at home and provide some services. The legal framework for cohabitation is governed by the ELAN law. Zineb and Françoise have established a contract thanks to the self-employed company Génération Conseils: the student occupies her room for 75 euros, and must ensure a regular presence on weekday evenings and every other weekend.

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Their first meeting? “It was a match right away,” says the student. “It’s the gluttony that brought us together”. Françoise had cooked for Zineb, and Zineb had brought her chocolate cakes from the region. The culinary exchange continued throughout these two years. “She makes me good couscous, I made her taste the raclette”, explains Françoise. “Three times you used raclette again!”.

The music, too, makes the link: “It made me discover a lot of names that I did not know and that I really appreciated”, details Zineb. “Me, I made him discover Moroccan music, and music of my generation”.

Framing the cohabitation

Their daily life is punctuated by these exchanges and by the little attentions they have for each other. Françoise wakes up Zineb – with a cowbell! – when she can’t get up to go to work. Zineb helps her with her hair, and brings her tablet every night in bed. For household chores, shopping and lunch, Françoise uses the services of a housekeeper. But Zineb also provides her with daily services: the shower, the evening meals, and all the other times when the sexagenarian needs help.

In some cases, the services rendered are clearly defined by Génération Conseils. “You have to frame the cohabitation”, explains Elisabeth Boularand, the manager of the self-employed company. “Afterwards, when people have gotten to know each other or trust each other, it’s tailor-made”. Génération Conseils currently manages about ten pairs in the region.

For Zineb and Françoise, the cohabitation is soon coming to an end. “We’re getting divorced,” says Françoise humorously. Zineb is going to fly off to new horizons: Toulouse, where she intends to find a job. However, their story does not end there. The two friends – because that’s what they have become – have already planned to visit each other.

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