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Intergenerational Care

LPNI Health Topic – February 2016
Intergenerational care

In society today the generations are often separated; families don’t always live together or even stay in the same town or city any more.  Older people often live in aged-care facilities, children attend day-care centres, and the two age groups rarely come together.  There are many advantages to intergenerational programs.  Intergenerational care brings a positive and pleasurable situation as the older and younger generations are brought together.

There is a large focus on positive ageing, but if we look at what is important in life to people in general, it often includes doing things for others, relationships and work. Keeping older people in aged-care facilities engaged in meaningful activities that involve participation with children has been seen to benefit both the older people and the children.

To run a successful program there needs to be cooperation and planning from both the aged-care facility and the day-care facility.  This is to ensure that safety and health requirements are met.  Once such a program is set up and running there are positive outcomes.  The older people find a sense of purpose as they participate in setting up simple art and craft or other activities in the room with the guidance of lifestyle staff (diversional therapy staff).  When children and older people participate in activities together there is focus on what the person can do rather than what they can’t do.  The speed is slowed down, there are more visual cues and there is less emphasis on speech or memory, especially when templates are used.  This is helpful for older people living with dementia.  Complex things are broken down into simple steps.

The benefits of integration between an aged-care facility and a child-care facility are social inclusion, and enjoyment for both the children and the older people. There is also a reason to talk and laugh.  It gives older people a chance to recall memories from their own parenting or childhood.  There are advantages for younger people too. It increases generational empathy and alters their perception of older people living in their communities.  This idea can be enhanced further if the aged-care facility integrates with a play-group where parents are also in attendance.  This would bring three generations together.

A well designed intergenerational aged-care and child-care partnership program would respect the participants’ need for a sense of security, order and dignity, and would acknowledge the individuality of participants, both children and older people.  The easiest assessment of a successful intergenerational program is the smiles on the participants’ faces ̶ young and older.

Angela Uhrhane RN
Pastoral Care Nurse Lutheran Aged Care Albury
Parish Nurse Wodonga Lutheran Parish
Victoria Australia
auhrhane@westnet.com.au
 
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