Those of you who did the Assessment Clinical Update in 2018 and 2019 will remember Dr Jed Montayre. He is now based in West Sydney University and has started an interesting programme to begin next year. It is a Masters in Aging – wellbeing and sustainability. Here is an article on it. He says ageing is not just about decline.
This is great to see as being in this age group and having sustained a fractured humerus 2 years ago and fractured pelvis this year, it is wonderful to see work going into how to sustain older people as they age. While I admit, I may be in the minority still working, more and more people are working past the age of 65. In fact, it’s not uncommon for people to work till they are 70 and beyond. While I move around in the community of older people, let me tell you, they are a vibrant lot of people and while they may not be actively working paid employment, they are very active in the community and in living. There are exercise, education and theatre groups, just to mention a few things that I know of.
Many are involved in travel and are always flitting overseas till Covid – 19 hit so now the are zooming around New Zealand.
There have been many studies of mixing young children with older adults around the world to. I am not aware of any in New Zealand, but it would be something well worth looking at. Some have a bit more than children visiting aged care facilities and villages to do an item but something ongoing where they are intricately involved with the older people.
On Vibe Channel on Thursday nights, they have been televising some experiments in the UK. One was this one in Bristol which ran for 6 weeks and the second study was one held for 3 months in Lark Hill Retirement Village in Nottingham 2018. Watch here. After the show there was an interview with one of the older people and the 4 year old she partnered with. Watch here.
Now the important thing for me here is the testing that was done throughout the study. The second study in Nottingham, had older people from the age of 70 to 103. The change in the older people during this time was remarkable. They were happier, stronger, more confident and more vibrant people. We must never forget that people can be socially isolated even when surrounded by people. How hard it must be to be left with only your memories to reflect on, which often focuses on the losses rather than the good things that happened in life.
A similar study was conducted in Australia in 2019. Just see the results of this. Wouldn’t it be amazing if such programmes are run in New Zealand ongoing? How much more enriched older people lives would be if they had something to look forward to each day and what a rewarding experience it is for the children, many of them who do not have grandparents living close to them. We must not forget that many people have family living away from their parent be it overseas or in other parts of the country. Some people do not have family either so we must think “how can we make their lives better” and set a path for this to happen.
So, when planning an activity programme in your facility, look at how you can introduce an intergenerational programme for you residents by partnering with a day care in your area. Many children do not have grandparents living locally, as I said, so they could really benefit from buddying up with an older person. Just think of the wonderful memories that can be created for both the children and the older person which can all be recorded to look back on. For the child, it can be a memory to show their own children when they get older. For the older person, it can be a memory for the absent families to treasure. What better project to work towards after the lockdown that we have all experienced? It would truly be a win/win for all.