Have you ever seen a child bring a smile to the face of an elderly loved one when no one else could seem to do it? It happens all the time. A young person’s enthusiasm and energy can often break through hard-to-penetrate personal boundaries that others cannot. This is also true for those with dementia.
According to an article in VeryWellHealth, (citing multiple sources, including NIH, American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease), the following benefits have been observed from inter-generational interactions between young people and individuals with cognitive impairment:
- Higher frequency of smiling and verbal or non-verbal communication
- Increased interaction, due to activities such as teaching children skills such as folding a towel, dusting a handrail or grouping colors together
- Higher level of overall engagement
While studies are ongoing to further evaluate the effects of inter-generational interaction, the overall impact of bringing individuals with dementia together with young people has been overwhelmingly positive.
A recent Harris Poll, conducted on behalf of Generations United, found that 86% of Americans queried would prefer a care setting with opportunities for inter-generational contact rather than one with only a single age group.
That is why at Anthem Memory Care communities we provide ample opportunities to bring local school children and high school students together with our residents. Here are just a few examples of what we’re doing that you may enjoy reading:
A Valentine’s Dance; Memory Care Residents with Local High School Students
Crafts, Smiles and Laughter; Memory Care Residents with Local Elementary School Children
Baking Girl Scout Cookies; Girl Scouts and Memory Care Residents
Christmas Stockings for Charity; Local Children and Memory Care Residents Work Together
Drumming Circles, Painting and Fun; Memory Care Residents and Local College Students
If you have a parent or other aging loved one who lives at home, it is important to find as many opportunities as possible to enable them to engage with young people.
If you are currently looking into memory care communities for a loved one, be sure to ask them about their inter-generational programs. They should be able to provide information on what activities they provide, how often they have them and be prepared to share stories and photos of these events.
Children and young adults are truly a blessing to those challenged by dementia, whose worlds have become more confusing and anxiety filled. Experiencing an interaction with a young person, even briefly, can do both of them a world of good.
Photograph is of a cookie baking session at Anthem’s Harvester Place Memory Care in Burr Ridge, Illinois