Many are surprised to learn that inside of our sprawling continuum of care campus, we have a child care center. Our Kinder Village children participate in regular intergenerational activities every week, from story time to engaging crafts. There are many benefits to intergenerational activities which contribute to the wellbeing of both children and older adults.
By having children regularly interact and complete activities with older adults, they become more used to seeing the wrinkles that come as we all age. This helps to dismiss assumptions and stereotypes that elders are senile or cranky, or even that they all have gray hair! At Episcopal Homes, we see big smiles when elders are in the presence of children. For our annual Fourth of July Kinder Village parade, our Welcome Center and Atrium were packed with elders to watch kids parade in their best red, white, and blue.
By completing activities together, children learn that elders can aren’t scary or sickly, but are interested in many of the same things the kids are! Elders love seeing young faces around their home. It helps them to feel less lonely, and gets children acquainted with the elderly population.
Older adults contribute to youth wellbeing, and kids help keep older adults active and may remind them of happy memories when they had young children running around. Even for elders who didn’t have children of their own, being around fresh faces can help to remind them of being young with endless energy. Children can teach older adults about the technology and trends that currently exist. In return, elders can give insight on what came before the current generation and what life was like for them. It’s a mutual relationship with benefits all around.
“Contrary to widespread beliefs that older populations consume resources that would otherwise go to youth, there is growing reason to think that older people may be just the resource children need,” said Laura Carstensen, a Stanford psychology professor and director of their Center on Longevity.
Carstensen was behind a Stanford study that found “older people’s qualities and their affinity for purpose and engagement position them to make critical contributions to the lives of youth who need help the most.” Older adults can give knowledge that isn’t found on the internet and play a critical role for children’s wellbeing and purpose.