If you’ve enjoyed the Channel 4 series called Old People’s Home for Four Year Olds, then you may be feeling inspired to find out more about the impact of children on older adults. If you haven’t seen any of the series, it is both fascinating and heart-warming viewing, and you can watch past episodes here.
The basic premise of the two series was to investigate the impact that extended exposure to the very young had on care home residents. In a nutshell, a preschool moved into a residential care home for a period of time as we watch powerful friendships between young and old formed. What’s more, the older adults experienced improvements in mood and physical ability.
The benefits of intergenerational care vary depending on the individual. However, some of the positive experiences include:
Not many care homes in the UK have a preschool within them! Does this mean that our older residents can’t benefit from intergenerational care? We think it’s time to get creative with how we enable intergenerational connections between young children and older adults.
The first and most obvious port of call is to facilitate relationships within families, even when a grandparent, great grandparent, or great aunt or uncle are in a care home, even if they are suffering from dementia.
There is a fear amongst society that keeps young children away from care homes for concern that they will disturb the residents or find it boring or distressing. Given we know this isn’t the case, encouraging relationships shouldn’t be a prime concern. When you visit your relative, bring along your children, but bring activities which they can share. Jigsaws, simple board games, and arts and crafts can give the visit purpose. You can also choose to share a meal, or take your resident out to a local attraction.
If you are connected with local clubs and societies, such as Rainbows, Beavers, Brownies and Cubs, encourage events where the children mix with residents of a local care home. Singing concerts, afternoon tea, or history sessions can appeal to all age groups.
Join a befriending service. Give up your time to help alleviate loneliness, and in time you may forge friendships between the older adult and your entire family.
Young children don’t have fixed agendas or prejudices yet. By allowing and enabling them to mix with older adults they develop empathy, compassion and emotional maturity. They benefit from the gift of time, which an older person has in abundance. Sharing a meal can easily become the highlight of an older person’s week.
If you’ve not seen the two Channel 4 series called Old People’s Home for Four Year Olds then you can watch it here. If you’d like to join a family member for a meal at one of our Eastleigh care homes, please speak to our staff at your next visit.