Senior Living Activities that Blend Generations
You might not expect to see children at a senior living facility, but perhaps you should. Senior living communities cater to the needs of older adults, and attention must be given to both the physical and emotional needs of the residents. Studies have shown that blending generations in senior living settings can provide benefits to both the older and younger individuals involved, making this a practice that deserves attention.
Demand for Intergeneration Programs
Intergenerational programs, which bring younger and older people together, are attractive to people seeking care for themselves or their loved ones.
The All In Together report from Generations United and the Eisner Foundation shows that only 26% of Americans are aware of places in the community where youth and older adults can interact, but many people are interested in the idea. In fact, 85% of Americans say that they would prefer a care setting with opportunities for intergenerational contact for themselves, and 86% would prefer this for a loved one.
Benefits for Both the Young and the Old
Generations United says that 92% of Americans think intergenerational activities can reduce loneliness. Loneliness is a serious issue for seniors – the CDC says that loneliness can put seniors at greater risk for dementia and other serious medical conditions – so anything that can reduce loneliness should be taken seriously.
Research supports the idea that blending generations can be beneficial. Blending the Generations, a program created by a University of Central Arkansas Occupational Therapy student as part of a doctoral capstone project has seven older participants and 12 younger participants. The two age groups spend time together and engage in conversation and activities. Older adults have experienced decreased depression and loneliness and improved health. The program has also helped reduce negative stereotypes that both younger and older people tend to have about the other age group.
It’s not just the seniors who benefit. According to research from Stanford, interactions between older adults and youth can support a sense of purpose for both age groups. Older adults benefit by learning about new things, such as technology, and children benefit from the mentorship and attention they receive.
Bringing Intergenerational Activities to Your Facility
By embracing activities that blend generations, you can help your residents feel better, both physically and mentally. This is a logical way to take care of your residents and support their overall well-being.
Intergenerational activities can also make your facility more attractive to seniors and their families when they’re comparing their senior living options. When people see that you offer frequent intergenerational programs, they may decide to select your facility over one that doesn’t offer this type of activity. Furthermore, the word may spread in the community, creating buzz and leading to referral business for your facility.
There are multiple ways to approach intergenerational activities.
- Invite youth groups to perform at your facility. Your residents might enjoy seeing local children sing, play musical instruments, dance, conduct science demonstrations or show off their other skills and talents. Contact some of the youth groups in your area and see if they’re interested in arranging an event or a series of events. For example, you can reach out to local schools, youth centers, and clubs.
- Co-host intergenerational activities. You can also collaborate with a school or youth group to host an intergeneration activity, such as a game night, cooking class, computer class, or art class.
- Have young people volunteer at your facility. Many teenagers engage in volunteer work, and some high schools even have community service requirements for graduation. Reach out to the high schools in your area to set up a volunteer program.
- Go on an off-site field trip to see a youth activity. Instead of bringing local youth to your facility, you can take your residents to their activities. For example, if the local high school is putting on a play, you can organize a field trip to watch it. You can also watch local spelling bees, debates, sports, and other youth events.
Of course, regardless of the approach you select, safety needs to be a priority. An injury could occur, for example, if a rowdy child accidentally runs into an older resident and causes the resident to fall. It’s important to have proper supervision, and volunteers should not be asked to do anything that could be dangerous. Some training and establishment of ground rules may also be necessary. For example, before the Blending the Generations program began, participants had sensitivity training.
Don’t forget about insurance when you’re blending generations. Talk to your agent to ensure that any new activities will be covered under your insurance program. Need assistance? PCALIC specializes in insurance for senior living and adult residential care facilities. Learn more.