Intergenerational activities are a relatively new idea, yet incredibly effective. Introducing young children to spend time with care home residents is a therapy method that has proven highly popular in care homes across the country, both for the younger and older generations. Care homes have seen young and shy children brought out of their shell thanks to the interaction, whilst the residents are embracing their grand-parental natures and enjoying playtime with the youngsters.
Channel 4’s documentary Old People’s Home For Four-Year-Olds highlighted how important this intergenerational interaction is, with the children providing a break in the routine and reducing the risk of loneliness in older people. For children who may not interact as much with older adults, intergenerational activities help break the boundaries of age and encourage friendships with a larger age gap than usual.
There are multiple ideas perfect for intergenerational activities, especially in care homes. We’ve compiled our top five activities, which individuals of all generations are guaranteed to love.
Gardening is a fun and easy activity for individuals of all ages to enjoy. Planting colourful flowers and fragrant plants helps people with dementia to improve their senses, whilst getting some fresh air. Children will enjoy the straightforward routine of gardening, which is perfect for providing social interaction too. If any of your residents live with arthritis, try out our ergonomic gardening tools, which are designed to be used comfortably.
Music is a simple bonding method that also has therapeutic qualities. Listening to music encourages different generations to learn about each other’s music tastes, from classical and 1950s pop to current artists and nursery rhymes. This additionally encourages discussion and social interaction, which helps both generations to gain confidence when talking to each other. Music has also been proven to help individuals with dementia to recall things like song lyrics, whilst older music from their childhood helps with reminiscence.
Arts and crafts projects are ideal for all generations to join in with, as you can make a number of fun items from baking to painting. When you’re choosing which arts and crafts to do, it’s a good idea to pick an activity that can be broken down into simple tasks that are easier for both your residents and visiting children to do. You could also theme your crafts to events and holidays, such as Christmas, Valentine’s Day or Bonfire Night, but always make sure to supervise everyone when using scissors or ovens.
Puzzles have been proven to help improve cognitive skills and increase focus, something which greatly benefits both younger and older individuals. Puzzles like jigsaws or ‘guess who’ games are ideal for teaching children how to play games and learn rules, whilst older individuals can exercise their brains and have fun working together to solve the puzzle. Additionally, puzzles can help to slow down dementia, as they help to improve memory, logic and reasoning. If you’re organising a jigsaw, it’s a good idea to choose one with large pieces, as they are easier to see and less of a choking hazard.
Colouring books are fun and therapeutic to use in intergenerational activities. Rather than use an adult colouring book which usually features quite intricate drawings, choose a book with simpler designs which will be easier for everyone to colour in. Coloured pencils are also easier and less messy to use than paints or pens, whilst everyone will love the bright and vivid hues. Colouring books are more suitable than just drawing, as it will guarantee neater results and is more straightforward.
Do you have any recommendations for intergenerational activities? Get in touch in the comments or send us a tweet.