Every Wednesday, at Highline Place Memory Care in Littleton, Colorado, a group of school children visit from nearby Saddle Ranch Elementary School. Together with the residents, they work on crafts while they share lots of smiles and laughter. Isn’t it amazing how a child can bring a smile to a senior’s face, often when no one else can?
Clearly, these visits bring benefits for both young and old. A recent article, written by Esther Heerema, MSW, for verywell.com, cites ongoing studies that connect social interaction between adults with Alzheimer’s disease and children to positive results.
Here are three of their findings we found interesting:
- People with dementia have a higher level of positive engagement when interacting with children.
- Intergenerational programming allows adults with dementia to be able to teach children things, such as how to fold a towel, how to dust handrails or how to categorize things such as by seasons or colors. (Imagine an adult with dementia teaching a child how to perform a task!)
- Interaction with older adults has also shown benefits for the children involved, including fewer behavioral challenges and improved social development.
The benefits are clear to everyone who has ever witnessed these get-togethers. That’s why our Anthem Memory Care communities, such as Highline Place, provide ample opportunities for residents to interact with school children. In many cases, long lasting friendships are formed between the residents and the children. In fact, several of our communities report that children continue to visit their resident “friends” even after they leave elementary school.
And, these benefits are not lost on the families of residents, who regularly report hearing the sound of children and laughter when they pass through the lobby doors. By all accounts, the residents look forward to the visits as much as the children do.
If you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, make sure you take advantage of every opportunity to bring younger family members, friends and neighborhood children in to visit on a regular basis. You will find, as we do, the benefits are well worth the effort.
You may also like to find out more about Anthem’s Respite Care programs, which provide short-term stays, ranging from a week to a month, for your loved one at one of our communities. Here they can experience, first hand, plenty of smiles and laughter from the school children who come to visit.