While they may not realise it, the generations can learn a lot from each other. The older generation can share from a lifetime of experiences and the younger can show how to rediscover your imagination to see the world in a new light. Right at Home is in a unique position to be the bridge.
Ruth Solomons of Right at Home Harrow believes in the power of intergenerational interaction and has been pioneering the way by introducing mixed generation workshops into her community. “I have a unique opportunity to offer something worthwhile to all members of my community. This year, on 7st March, World Book Day, we took some of our Clients for an arts and crafts session at a local nursery. The children and our Clients had a very enjoyable morning reading books and making book marks together.”
According to a report published last year, young people who regularly mix with the older generation develop better language, reading and social skills. United for All Ages (UAA) discovered children benefitted from spending time with older people and the elderly were less likely to suffer from feelings of loneliness, therefore improving their quality of life. Stephen Burke, UAA’s Director said, “Our challenge to Britain is to maximise these benefits. Research shows there are lasting benefits of a good start in life.” The concept of intergenerational care and interaction was implemented in Japan in 1976 but is only recently being recognised in the UK as a beneficial experience for all.
Television programmes such as Channel 4’s ‘Old People’s Home for 4-year Olds’, demonstrates the strong bond older and younger people can cultivate. The programme undertook an ambitious experiment to see if it could transform the way we care for our increasingly older population. One of the UK’s biggest retirement villages opened a nursery where the classmates’ ages ranged from three to 102 and the conversations have been special to listen in on. The interaction between the two generations is seen to have a positive impact on the moods of all those involved and for the pensioners in the series, it helped to improve mindfulness and mobility. You can watch the full series here: https://www.channel4.com/programmes/old-peoples-home-for-4-year-olds
In a culture now where people may not live near their extended families, creating these events so the generations can mix is even more crucial. Small children are non-judgemental, inquisitive and creative. At each workshop, we see how this stimulates our Clients and helps them to go outside their more fixed identity. Programmes like ‘Old People’s Home for 4-year Olds’, help us to rethink about what the experience of old age is like and how we as a society can respond to that.
As Ruth explains, “These events allow the generations to interact together, creating a positive environment. I wanted to give my Clients something to look forward to as they leave their homes to mix with the younger people in the community. I believe this is important for their emotional and mental wellbeing.”
To find out more about Right at Home and our services, please call our friendly team or download our services brochure.