A Michigan retirement community will serve as a research setting for the next 19 months as three college students majoring in occupational therapy call it home.

The students, from the Grand Rapids campus of Western Michigan University, moved into nearby Clark on Keller Lake, an 80-bed retirement community offering independent and assisted living as well as memory care, on Monday.

During their time at the senior living community, Collett Chapp, Lori Johnson and Corey Youngs will interact with residents and study the effects of social isolation and loneliness, aging and stereotypes that retirees and college students have about one another. The university believes it is one of the first research projects of its type in the United States.

“WMU’s occupational therapy department identified a situation that many people talk about but never take the time to truly understand,” said Nancy Ayers, director of resident living at Clark on Keller Lake. “We are proud our residents have agreed to help WMU’s students on this very important research, which will help create better communication between the aging population and those who provide vital services to them.”

Nancy Hock, coordinator of the regional campus’ occupational therapy department, said the university hopes that the collaboration will lead to more effective intergenerational communication.