If you walk through the doors of one of our communities, odds are you’ll find an assortment of young people. Whether it's a visit from grandchildren or from local school kids who help them with special projects, young people are a big part of our residents' daily lives.
We are strong believers in inter-generational activities because we witness the value they provide every day. Not only do inject energy and laughter into our communities, but they themselves also benefit from exposure to older adults and the wisdom they are happy to share.
So, what is it about the power of children to bring so much instant joy to older individuals, especially those challenged by dementia?
Several studies have examined this unique dynamic. Verywell Health notes several benefits identified in those studies:
- A higher level of positive engagement occurred when individuals with dementia interacted with children.
- Inter-generational programs provide a pathway to be part of a child’s education, by teaching them things such as how to fold a towel or dust furniture and handrails.
- Activities between older individuals with dementia and children provide a sense of value and meaning, which improves the quality of life.
- The proximity of children brings more smiles and increased interactions.
- The children also benefit from these interactions, showing fewer behavioral challenges and better social development.
While these studies help define and clarify the value of inter-generational relationships, for most of us it is easy to understand simply by observation.
Families also tell us they can see the difference in our communities when children arrive on the scene. Everyone brightens up and is more aware of those around them. Often memories from their earlier lives will surface and they are delighted to share them with the young people who enjoy hearing about “back in the day”.
Below are a few images of some of our many projects with local school children:
This Vineyard Place Memory Care resident shows off her putting skills to a visiting student in Murrieta, California.
Local school children visit residents (and canine friends) of Willowbrook Place Memory Care in Littleton, Colorado.
A special Day of Service project is shared between residents of Harvester Place Memory Care and local high school students in Burr Ridge, Illinois.
Highline Place Memory Care residents swap some recipes with local schoolgirls in Littleton, Colorado.
We are grateful for our partnerships with local schools and organizations who support our inter-generational programs. They are an important part of our mission to protect, engage, and love our residents.
If you are caring for a loved one who has dementia, consider getting in touch with family members or close friends who have children who might be up for a visit. Be sure to brief them so that they understand your loved one's challenges in advance of the visit. But, by taking a few extra steps to connect your loved one with young people you just might find that the benefits are well worth the effort.
(Our header image shows a fun game of cards being enjoyed by a resident of Chelsea Place Memory Care and a student from Regis Jesuit High School in Aurora, Colorado.)