Walking through a retirement community, the sight of children shouldn’t be as rare as a rose in winter. But that’s the reality at many places. While retirement communities are meant to be havens of comfort and security, they shouldn’t become places of isolation where residents lose contact with younger people.
That’s why intergenerational programs are so valuable. Both seniors and children enjoy opportunities to get together for socialization, fun and even education. While residents at one of our campuses teach children about planting seeds and growing food, seniors at another are learning tech skills from teenagers. Here at Country Meadows, we have many residents who have benefitted from involvement in such activities.
Seniors and kids meet for conversation and fun at Country Meadows Retirement Communities
At Country Meadows, each campus strives for at least two intergenerational programs per month to build relationships between residents and young people, says Mary Ann Bertucio, executive director of community life. She emphasizes that these are more than performances by kids for seniors. “Our intergenerational programs encourage interaction among the generations—young people coming in and working on a purposeful service project with our residents.”
Here is just a sample of intergenerational activities that take place at Country Meadows Retirement Communities:
- Writing letters with second-graders to send to troops stationed overseas
- Second graders and residents interviewing each other with “getting to know you” books
- A pen pal program with fourth graders and seniors meeting at the end of the school year
- Middle school youth making holiday cards and delivering them to residents
- Middle schoolers playing games with residents
- Quilting with Girl Scouts for their Gold Award, the highest achievement in Girl Scouting
- College students interviewing and having small-group discussions with residents
Our professional staff at each campus of Country Meadows Retirement Communities plans these programs to support our residents in remaining active and maintaining interpersonal relationships. We recognize the social, cognitive and physical advantages that seniors gain from activities such as these.
Both generations benefit from relationships with each other
Older adults who interact with children have increased activity levels and burn off more calories. Seniors with dementia exhibit more positive reactions during activities with kids than in those without them. And even those who are cognitively healthy have their days brightened by visits and conversations with children and youth.
Kids benefit as well. Children in school-sponsored intergenerational programs have better reading scores, positive role models and less chance of using illegal drugs, drinking alcohol and skipping school. They can also develop a positive understanding of older adults, some of whom may be quite different from their own families.
We invite you to look over our tip sheet listing the social benefits of active retirement communities where educational and entertaining programs are encouraged for all who can participate.
When choosing a retirement community and visiting the ones that most interest you, be sure to ask what activities they offer. We invite you to see any of our Pennsylvania retirement communities or our Frederick, Maryland campus. Please schedule a visit or request more information.