People are living longer than ever
This is great news for us as individuals but, in an increasingly mobile society, it also creates a challenge as generations of families don’t always live in the same community; so how can we keep our youngest and oldest residents connected?
One solution is ‘Intergenerational Care’. Developed in Japan in the 1970s this approach has recently been gathering momentum in the UK, even spawning a Channel 4 reality TV show ‘Old People’s Home for 4-year Olds’. If you watched that show you will have seen first hand how heart-warming relationships can be forged between the children and the elderly residents of the home.
The positive effects of these relationships are tangible for both age groups, but also pay dividends for the wider community. Intergenerational activities can help different age groups relate to and value one another – reducing ageism, breaking down stereotypes and increasing empathy. Intergenerational projects enable cultural traditions and values – as well as new innovations and technology – to be shared between generations, which helps build a sense of personal and community identity while encouraging tolerance.
Older adults, including those with dementia and similar cognitive impairments have been shown to have improved memory and a more positive outlook as a result of interacting with young children. Children also benefit hugely from the unconditional attention a relationship with an older person can provide – improved confidence and communication skills are seen, vocabulary improves, social barriers are broken down. It’s a win-win scenario!