What happens when young and old come together under the same roof? What can you expect when a five-year-old and a ninety-five year old sit across the table from one another, watch a movie together, or create their own works of art over a shared palette of paint? The answer may come as a surprise to many, but at our campus, we see it all the time: they have a ball.
It’s not uncommon to hear peals of laughter coming from our campus common areas or hallways. We often play host to children from local elementary schools and scout groups, and it doesn’t take long for our residents and visitors to have one another in stitches. Young visitors remind our residents to relax and enjoy the little things, like learning a new skill or making a new friend (even if they’re from a different generation)! Our visitors also have a lot to learn from our residents, who love the chance to tell their favorite stories to fresh ears.
Studies have shown that 43% of older adults experience social isolation, even in environments like our campus, where there is always something to do and someone to meet. Sometimes it takes someone special to bring a person out of their shell, and oftentimes, that someone special is half their height and well under half their age. Young people are eager to learn, quick to smile, and curious from head to toe, making them the perfect companions for residents who may be feeling lonely or sad.
We recently hosted our second annual Grandparents Day Sleepover, and witnessed the benefits of blending generations first-hand. Our guests brought out something special in our residents; something that is easy to lose touch with as we grow older: the ability to tap into our inner kid. This wasn’t the first time we’ve seen this special kind of magic happen, and it definitely won’t be the last (see our post from last year's first sleepover event). And now, even more intergenerational events are in the works! In the meantime, we invite our family members and friends to bring their children by for a visit. Our campus is stocked with puzzles, games, and art supplies, not to mention wonderful people to share them with.
The benefits of creating connections between generations cannot be counted. There is knowledge to be shared on both sides, as well as lots of love. Our campuses are so much more than a community for our seniors. They are places that are perfect for forging these connections, which can help both generations appreciate the past, cherish the present, and look forward to the future.