Intergenerational aged care: new programs putting the younger with the wiser.

It’s said that spending time with people younger than you is supposed to ‘keep you young’: at least, this is the theory employed recently by an innovative education program in New South Wales, Australia.

The Maranatha Gunyah Intergenerational Learning Centre in the town of Wellington has started welcoming residents from the neighbouring Maranatha House aged care facility in order to aid childhood learning, and provide joy and support to the aged care residents.

This is Wellington’s story of gratitude for this wonderful pairing project that is bringing so much joy to the local children and aged care residents.

The pairing of the younger with the wiser isn’t just a theory, it’s based on research from Griffith University’s Intergenerational Care Project, which promotes interactions through games, reading, and singing to combat memory loss and loneliness.

The lead investigator on the project, Professor Anneke Fitzgerald, spoke to ABC News about the feedback on the facility’s model, stating that ‘a shared campus model is absolutely the most preferred model to have. Mixing with younger children through an activity will help people with their reminiscence to transfer to next generation, but reminds them of their own worth, a sense of self-actualisation, a worth to the world, and a sense of purpose.’

Not only do the aged care residents benefit, but according to Anneke, “one of the main things we found is that when children mix with older people, they are much less likely to be delinquent in teenage years…their linguistic skills improve, their reflection skills, they are more curious about history, and a higher level of interest in the world around them.’

But it’s not all about calculated results, sometimes the most rewarding outcome is the increased happiness of residents. 82-year-old resident Pauline Corcoran spoke of her experience with the project: ‘you know you’re alive, there’s been a lot of changes over the 16 years [I’ve lived here], but it’s been a happy time, and this makes it happier seeing all the little children.’

Imagine if we took an intergenerational perspective in other community programs… whether it’s programs at the local library or education services for those who are wanting to learn something new. Think of the thriving, happy places our communities could become!

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