A Friendship Has No Age

A Friendship Has No Age

19 July 18

Residents at Respect are far more than aged people. Full of life, full of experience and full of friendship, there are still many ways that they can make a valuable contribution to their local communities.

Research has shown that inter-generational programs involving interactions between young children and aged care residents can have fantastic benefits for both generations. Increased self-esteem, new friendships, greater smiles and more conversations are just some of the benefits that can be enjoyed by both young and old.

As part of the inter-generational community based program, Wellington Views residents receive a weekly visit from Brighton Primary school students during their after school program organised by Lady Gowrie Childcare. The students engage in a variety of different activities with the residents including reading, games, drawing and conversation. This interaction is extremely beneficial for the residents and students and they very much look forward to their weekly visits with their new friends.  For many of the residents the visits from their young friends helps to keep them young in body and spirit as they draw on their many years’ experience raising their own children.  The visits help the children grow in confidence, strengthen their communication skills and build positive and respectful relationships with senior members of the community.

More recently the Wellington Views residents have been to visit the children during their school holiday care program and have enjoyed reading stories, creating artwork and playing board games.  Care staff have noticed some really strong relationships developing between the two groups and the visits are something that the residents genuinely look forward to.

Several aged care providers in the US are taking this idea one step further by combining a school and aged care centre in the one facility.  The Intergenerational Learning Centre in West Seattle known as ‘The Mount’ is a fully integrated childcare and senior care centre where 125 children and 400 elderly residents come together five days a week.  They enjoy activities like music, dancing, art, storytelling and have lunch together.  During those times, residents prone to confusion and depression, many diagnosed with dementia and Alzheimer’s, are engaged and lucid.  Staff report that residents that normally can’t speak coherently, can be seen speaking in full sentences during time with the children in what they have dubbed ‘moments of grace’.  The centre has become the subject of a documentary called Present Perfect, shot over the course of a year by filmmaker Evan Briggs.

At the Grace Living Centre in Jenks, Oklahoma, children and residents come together many times every day to participate in shared activities such as the ‘Book buddies’ program, Zumba classes and arts and crafts.  A highlight of the program is the numerous cats and dogs walking around, freely intermingling with the children and residents and adding another layer to this highly interactive environment