Developing a bond with an elder or a child can be a transformative, life-changing experience. We have so much to learn from the children first exploring their environment, and the seniors who have seen so much.
The Mount St. Vincent Experiment
Earlier in the year, The Atlantic featured a Seattle-based living-care community known to locals as ‘The Mount,’ here’s why:
Six times a week, teachers take their groups to the residential floors to visit the elders for anywhere from 20 minutes for the infants to 60 minutes for the older children. Residents are welcome to observe in the classrooms, and structured activities for the children and residents to participate in together are scheduled daily.
The philosophy is simple — before the development of professional care facilities (including pre-schools and eldercare communities), seniors and kids often shared the space together. This is just a new way to inter-mingle again in today’s world.
The most touching part of the article came from Marie Hoover, the Intergenerational Learning Center Director, who observed the positive impact the pre-schoolers had on one resident in particular who suffers from advanced Alzheimer’s. The article points to many studies that prove this program’s worth to seniors, “social interaction with decreased loneliness, delayed mental decline, lower blood pressure, and reduced risk of disease and death.”
We, alongside author Tiffany R. Jansen, are intrigued by the reverse effects — what are the benefits children gain from being around the elderly?
At Brooking Park
Needless to say, we are very excited about this write-up and learning model — especially as a community who works with families, offers support groups, encourages visitors (of all ages!), and who knows about the advantages of pets in eldercare (we are pet-friendly).
In the coming weeks, please stay tuned for updates from our new chaplain about our forthcoming intergenerational programs.