Intergenerational care – the way of the future, I hope

At 65, I have no intention of shuffling off to an aged-care facility any time soon, but the mere threat of ending my days in one makes me shiver. You see, I’ve visited a few, and even the best are waiting rooms for the last train.

Here in Australia, in-home care is becoming a buzz word, but even if the idea gets the funding it needs and actually takes off, it won’t solve the problem of loneliness. And it won’t solve the problem of the frail, not-so-very-old who need the kind of care that only a nursing home can provide.

I was chatting with online friend, Sue Vincent, about the prospect of robots being used in aged care when Sue pointed me to this link:

The article opened my eyes to research that’s being done into how best to combine care for the bookend generations – i.e. the very young and the very old.

This is the bit that did it for me:

‘After we filmed our documentary, one lady who attended the care facility told me that you don’t think about your age when you are in the company of young children. The little ones brought a new sense of vibrancy and fun to the centre, and the focus was no longer on watching time pass but on living in the moment.’ [emphasis is mine].

Not every older person is going to want to have direct contact with young children – all mothers know how tiring toddlers can be – but there are so many other things an older person could do behind the scenes to make together-time fun.

I know because I do some of this behind the scenes stuff at one of the community houses at which I volunteer. They have a small day care centre run by dedicated staff who never have enough hours in the day to prepare all the little things needed for the childrens’ activities. I’ve made countless lumps of playdoh, cut out pictures, squeezed easter eggs into tiny knitted ‘chickens’ [created by yet more volunteers], wrapped Christmas presents, helped with fund-raising raffles…the list goes on and on.

My point is that helping behind the scenes, at one’s own pace, can be just as satisfying as doing one-on-one with the kids themselves. Why? Because it gives older people a sense of purpose, a reason to ‘get up in the morning’.

In my humble opinion, having a sense of purpose is what we all need to ‘live in the moment’.



About acflory

I am the kind of person who always has to know why things are the way they are so my interests range from genetics and biology to politics and what makes people tick. For fun I play online mmorpgs, read, listen to a music, dance when I get the chance and landscape my rather large block. Work is writing. When a story I am working on is going well I'm on cloud nine. On bad days I go out and dig big holes... View all posts by acflory

24 responses to “Intergenerational care – the way of the future, I hope

  • Ellen Buikema (@ecellenb)

    Combining the old and the young works so well! There are a plethora of homes for the elderly in the U.S. I sing in a choir that performs in many that exist in our area. Only one that I am aware of has inter-generational care, which I believe benefits both sides of the age spectrum.

    I hope that when my time comes, one of my children won’t mind taking in their quirky old mom. But if that is not to be, I’d be happier with inter-generational, or maybe a pool boy, lol.


  • Elizabeth Drake

    I love this idea! It would be so good for both generations. My Little ones would benefit from the attention and experience, and maybe they’d enjoy my kids antics. Win/ win.


    • acflory

      Absolutely. I think that little kids have no fear of age or the aged. They just respond to affection and attention, which is exactly what the elderly respond to as well. I’m crossing my fingers and toes on this one.

      Liked by 1 person

  • The Story Reading Ape

    My sense of purpose (that Sue mentioned in her comment) comes from helping authors, writers and poets, behind the scenes, at my own pace.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Sue Vincent

    “having a sense of purpose is what we all need to ‘live in the moment’.” There is research to support this too… it impacts on both physical and mental health and happiness.

    Liked by 1 person

    • acflory

      Yes, it makes perfect sense to me. Back in the day, my Dad and I went back to Hungary to visit my grandmother as she was 92 and fading fast.

      When we arrived she was barely able to get around and was ‘vague’ to put it kindly. When she finally realised that the strangers in her apartment were her son and granddaughter, it was as if she came alive again. And you know the first thing she did? She got up and started cooking for us.
      I get a bit teary even now when I think of how much she changed. When she did die, about a year later, it was gently in her sleep.


  • davidprosser

    When I was a lot younger and perhaps just starting out on my Care Home phase it was dream of mine to have an old people’s home with a children’s home next door but connected. I was sure that the kids would benefit from the loving a grandparent figure could offer and the ‘oldies’ would benefit from being better occupied that staring at the carpet all day.
    I was obviously before my time.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  • Carrie Rubin

    I love that concept–both helping out in the day cares directly and helping out behind the scenes. Makes great sense for all involved.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Candy Korman

    My late mother was adamant about having friends of all ages. I know that younger friends are not a solution to all the problems associated with being old and feeling lonely, but it did help her a great deal. Until the last few months of her life when she was in in-home hospice care, she had a social life that included teaching a young neighbor to play bridge, attending movies with one of my friends, going to museums & the theater with me and/or other younger people, membership on her condo board (holding all the interviews for new apartment owners), dinners with friends in their 40s, 50s & 60s, etc. or taking my cousin’s son out to lunch when he was getting his doctorate in Princeton. Most of her contact with her contemporaries (mid-to-late 80s) was confined to the phone & email. Too many old friends moved away and most were unable to travel back to New York. At one point, we hired a college student to take mom out to do errands and go to lunch. She always seemed to be teaching someone how to knit. Nothing like being an authority with decades of experience!

    I hope that organized programs, bringing generations together. It educates the young, teaches compassion, and helps people cope with being alone. But the ad hoc arrangements made by neighbors & friends is also good. We should stop thinking about contemporaries as our only friends!

    Liked by 1 person

    • acflory

      Such a good point, Candy. From what you’ve said, your mother lived life to the full for as long as possible.
      My Dad was like that too. Until the last year or so of his life, he caught a bus into the city every day to ‘busk’ with his violin. I was amazed at how large his circle of younger friends really was.
      I don’t know how successful Dad was, but he was /happy/. Once he could no longer play, it was a struggle to get him up out of bed every day. If there had been some kind of childcare system nearby he could have visited to play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star for the kids. He loved that.


  • dvberkom

    This is great! Thanks for sharing it, AC!


  • bone&silver

    I so agree with you! Locking our elders away ‘out of sight’ is a terrible social experiment; they have so much to contribute, in unique ways. What a waste of human resources

    Liked by 1 person

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