Games, art projects, and reading are always more fun when we can share them with someone. And if that someone is much older or much younger than you are, that can be even better.
Recently, Among Friends again welcomed the children of an area family who have become our regular visitors. When they aren’t playing musical instruments and singing or performing magic tricks, the children are seeking advice and talking about their art projects with our participants.
While research on the benefits of intergenerational interaction is not plentiful, it seems to confirm what we at Among Friends have experienced. Esther Heerema, MSW, author of “Therapeutic Benefits of Children For People Living with Dementia,” lists the following benefits that come through the interactions of people with dementia and children:
- People living with dementia had a higher level of positive engagement when interacting with children.
- Older adults without dementia demonstrate a higher frequency of smiling and conversation when interacting with preschool age children.
- Intergenerational programming allows adults with dementia to be able to teach children things, such as how to fold a towel, how to dust handrails or how to categorize things such as by seasons or colors.
- Interaction with older adults has also shown benefits for the children involved, including fewer behavioral challenges and improved social development.
- Intergenerational interaction appears to serve as a meaningful activity and improve quality of life for older adults living with dementia (verywellhealth.com).
A recent study has shown that spending even one hour per week in social interaction can profoundly change and improve the lives of people with dementia. Just 60 minutes of conversation and social activity lessened agitation levels and even physical pain (AARP 7 Feb. 2018).
Among Friends allows those with memory loss to spend time with staff and volunteers engaged in meaningful activities–conversation, adapted exercise, music, crafts, games, and other projects–to promote our participants’ well-being. We come together weekly to enjoy one another’s company while giving individuals with dementia opportunities to improve the quality of their lives.