Intergenerational Care: The Benefits of Bringing Preschools & Nursing Homes Together

Intergenerational care is an idea that is appreciated by the great majority of Americans. In fact, over 90% of Americans think that older people have the skills needed to care for young children. Intergenerational child care could become a good solution both for elders and working families with children. Let’s see the benefits of mixing preschools and nursing homes together.

Benefits for Children

Children's development is a topic studied in every school and university. First of all, teachers have to be prepared to adapt the delivery of information to the age of students. And this depends on their cognitive development too.But which are the benefits of intergenerational care for children? Well, they are diverse. Along with elders, they are among the most abused and neglected population segments. Which makes finding a good preschool care facility challenging. Parents are spending a lot of time finding a preschool they trust will take care of their children. Aging adults are a great choice as they have the patience they need to spend the day with children.

On top of this, their life experience enables them to pass on wisdom, which helps children develop. A lot of parents say that aging adults have the patience to enter the universe of children, play, and teach them. For example, they can teach children to play the cello or the piano. They can teach them geography and history, especially if they have traveled and read a lot. 

Even though intergenerational care is not an established trend, a lot of facilities around the world are beginning to integrate it. For example, some states in the USA already have a preschool and nursing home together and the waiting list for children who want to be part of it is immense. Apart from states in the USA, Australia, the UK, and Japan are following the trend. Actually, this idea started in Japan in the 70s and today nursing homes and preschools are more and more common.

Another benefit of bringing preschools and nursing homes together is that both children and their parents learn how to talk with the elderly. Some studies and reports show that a lot of people talk to elders just like babies. This is something many aging adults do not agree with.

Spending time in a nursing home teaches both children and their parents how to efficiently communicate with elders. This while children get all the love and attention they need to develop and evolve into healthy and functional adults. It helps students develop prosocial behaviors they will display later in life too. It teaches them the value of collaboration and it helps them connect with the older generations.

Benefits for Elders

There are a lot of benefits to combining preschool and nursing homes. A lot of studies show that as we get old, the level of loneliness is rising. This is due to the health conditions we may develop that prevent us from experiencing life as in our youth years. It might also be due to the fact that your friends and family members grow old with you and over time, they die. Loneliness is a predictor of increased morbidity and mortality, so if we want to keep our elders here, we need to find solutions to alleviate this loneliness.

As family visits get rarer and rarer, the segregation between generations is deeper and deeper. And while young children do not know what they are missing, grandparents in nursing facilities do know. Generations live hundreds of miles apart and they miss spending quality time and moments together. Including preschools in nursing homes comes with a lot of benefits to elders. It seems that the epidemic of loneliness is more and more accentuated. And the health risks are bigger and bigger. 

If elders get the opportunity to spend time with children, their loneliness is alleviated. There are already some facilities that bring preschools and nursing homes together and the effects are fantastic. Elders feel better and their well-being is boosted; the same goes for their mood. There is a report of a woman called Sarah, aged 102. Over time, she managed to get up from her wheelchair just to go and play with her new 4-year-old friend. While loneliness leads to health issues, depression, cognitive decline, or anxiety, spending time with children alleviates the symptoms of all these. It keeps elders active, both mentally and physically. It helps them establish deep connections with children, who benefit a lot from intergenerational care too.

But maybe the most important benefit is that it provides aging adults with a sense of purpose. Feeling you have no purpose is something that comes naturally as children make their own families, you get to spend less and less time with them, and you are aging too. This sense of purpose is motivating elders to care for their health so that they can experience these moments with children more often.

Final Thoughts

Intergenerational care is a trend that is slowly gaining momentum, a solution to many problems in our society. Aging adults and children are among the most neglected and abused, so bringing preschools and nursing homes together is one of the best solutions. Elders can pass on their wisdom and give children all the love and attention they need and deserve. Children can give aging adults a sense of purpose that boosts their well-being and mood. And parents can be sure that their children get the appropriate care as elders have patience and know how to interact with them. Intergenerational care should be implemented across the world as it comes with tremendous benefits both for elders and children.