I worked at the nursing home for about five years before our on-site children’s center opened. This gave me the opportunity to witness the amazing impact children have on the lives of nursing home residents. And it’s a two-way street; the residents benefit the kids just as much as the kids benefit the residents. Here’s how:
Residents have a positive impact on children:
- Kids learn to accept people who are living with disabilities and impairments.
- Children are less likely to display ageism when they grow up around multiple generations.
- Kids enjoy the extra unconditional love they receive from the residents.
- Interaction with residents enhances communication and social skills.
- Residents can help children learn.
- The positive attention children receive from residents boosts their self-esteem.
- Children feel a sense of accomplishment when they help residents with simple tasks.
Children have a positive impact on residents:
- Friendships formed with children reduces loneliness.
- Compared with adults, children tend to be more patient with and accepting of residents who display unusual behaviors (asking repetitive questions, etc.).
- Kids encourage residents to be more active. I know several residents who aren’t eager to participate in exercise groups led by staff. Yet, they enthusiastically join in when children participate.
- Helping the children gives residents a sense of purpose.
- Spontaneous interactions with children add variety and fun to a resident’s day.
- The children trigger happy memories of a time when the resident’s own children were young.
- Residents may eat better if children join them during a meal. After all, the residents want to be good role models.
Check out this delightful video for an example of an on-site children’s center in action: