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Intergenerational program benefits seniors and kids

A new intergenerational program is making waves in the aged care sector and building positive relationships between seniors and the younger generation.

Not-for-profit organisation Community Vision developed the new program “to bring together young and old for mutually beneficial outcomes”.

As part of the initiative, Community Vision Family Day Care educators are now bringing young children to meet and connect with the older generations.

Community Vision’s chief operating officer Yvonne Timson said the program has been running successfully at Perth’s Woodvale Day Centre every day for the past three weeks, and it’s hoped it will expand to other locations.

“We live in a society where care of young and old is increasingly separated, with very limited opportunity for the two age groups to interact,” she said.

“Research has proven that these interactions can have fantastic benefits for each generation, with children having a better sense of who they are and where they’ve come from and older participants showing an increase in positivity in their lives, as well as improvements in health.

“The concept of intergenerational interactions (non-familial) is centred around the seemingly simple idea that old and young can bring new energy, knowledge and enthusiasm to each others’ lives; however it does require planned experiences such as play with books, bubbles, hand-made shakers, hand-made skittles, blocks, jigsaws, shape sorters, singing, playing board games, jigsaws, art experiences, balloons and iPads.

“Activities like this can not only prolong their life, but also keep them in their homes for longer without needing to seek out full time care in a facility.”

Community Vision has seen the most success with The Sunshine Group for those living with dementia.

Head of Family Day Care Services Helen Miles said research showed that active and involved adults with close intergenerational connections experienced less depression, better physical health and higher levels of life satisfaction.

“After a few weeks of intergenerational activities, everyone is extremely positive about the experiences and the friendships that are blossoming,” she said.

“It’s also clear to see that the interaction is bringing joy to the group. For instance the other day, three very happy clients living with dementia took great delight in taking turns to hold and interact with a seven-month-old baby who is in family day care.”

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