Disclosure: I am partnering with Providence St. Joseph Health. All opinions are my own.
When I was about 10 my extended family took some really amazing (picture matching dresses and ringtail curls) family photos. I can still remember what a big deal it was, capturing four generations, my great-grandma, my grandma, my dad, and I in that photo. My great-grandma lived to be 93 years old and in her final year on Earth, our son, the fifth generation, was born.
My great-grandma lived in a nursing home about an hour’s drive from my house. I made a concerted effort to visit her regularly and always with me, her only great-great-grandchild in tow. When we would walk into the nursing home, the residents would perk up, ogling that little baby of mine. I could see how much our visits lifted their spirits. Great-grandma absolutely adored this sweet boy and looked forward to our regular visits.
I made sure to set up a photography session at her nursing home with all 5 generations because I knew how much she cherished the fact that she was a great-GREAT grandma. Those moments were special for my great-grandma and I hold them and that time we spent together very close to my heart. I know that it made a huge difference in her happiness that we were there and I am so thankful that I was able to give that to her.
The Importance of Building Intergenerational Programs
Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are communities. Often residents in these homes, live very structured, routine lives with little interaction from outside of their residence. I can’t imagine how much different my great-grandmas nursing home experience would have been if not for our family’s frequent visits.
Not everyone has family close enough to visit regularly. However, there’s one very special senior living community that has created intergenerational programs to benefit everyone!
For more than three decades, the kids at the Intergenerational Learning Center known as Child Care at the Mount have been bringing their youthful exuberance and wide-eyed wonder to the senior residents of Providence Mount Saint Vincent senior care facility. It is the intersection of new and old, the young and the young at heart. This award-winning program is bridging gaps and facilitating much needed social interaction for the seniors. Five days a week, residents and staff welcome up to 125 children to sing, dance, learn and more! The children and residents share in activities such as music, dancing, art, lunch, storytelling or simply visiting with each other.
It is a daycare and preschool program that not only teaches the younger generations about shapes and colors but also about love, aging, acceptance and building community.
The Intergenerational Learning Center (ILC) is a program has a problem-solving based curriculum where children learn to solve problems that arise throughout their day and where they are trusted and encouraged to overcome obstacles. The children interact with the residents and learn in a positive and self-confidence building space while the residents gain social interaction, are able to laugh, play, move and work those brains!
Health Benefits of Socialization
I can tell you from my personal experience that children light up a nursing home. Their youthful spirit is contagious!. The Intergenerational Learning Center (ILC) is seeing amazing results with their child care program in both the children and the residents. There are several studies that have been conducted in senior communities and it has shown that when residents have more social interactions, they are happier, less likely to be lonely, their blood pressure is lower, they have less mental decline and overall their risk for death and disease lowers.
Integrating two of our most innocent and cherished generations, I call this a win-win! To learn more about the Intergenerational Learning Center, Child Care at the Mount at Providence Mount St. Vincent in West Seattle: