A beautiful friendship has been blossoming between the young students of Busy Bees Nursery in Durham and the residents of a nearby nursing home. The idea of pairing the elderly and young children is not a new one. Students from Pasco Elementary in Dade City, Florida have been performing small recitals and having visitations with residents from a nearby senior facility since the 1990’s.
Many people don’t even realize these programs exist, however. If they’ve persisted for at least twenty years (probably more), they must be highly beneficial in some way, right?
While some are obvious, we decided to delve a little further into the topic to see what we could dig up. The results are pretty amazing. Check it out…
How the Children Benefit
The children, for starters, are very excited to make their scheduled visits. According to a senior practitioner at the Durham nursing home, Emma Mickle, “the children look forward to the visits and are always pleased to see the residents.”
Via these visits, children are taught important social skills, including how to interact with those OUTSIDE their peer group. They are taught respect for their elders by creating last bonds with them, and (I can assume) learn a good deal about history at the same time. A bittersweet, but entirely necessary, skill learned through these visits is also how to cope with loss.
How the Senior Residents Benefit
A staff member from the nursing home in Durham stated that the residents are always thrilled to see their little friends, and it generally makes them happier. There have actually been studies done about this, both with children and with young animals.
When members of our senior populations are given the ability to interact with children, or to care for young animals (such as still-nursing kittens), they have a whole slew of mostly unexplained benefits that I personally think are truly amazing. Here are just a few:
- Improved mood and cognitive abilities
- Wider range of motion and joint mobility
- Increased energy
- Lower blood pressure
- Increased appetite
- And so much more!
This Is So Very Important…
Historically, societies have taken care of their elderly because they took care of us (as a collective) when we were young. These days, many senior residents are stuck in nursing homes or even their own homes and get no visitors for weeks or months on end. Some never get any at all.
By teaching these very young children that our senior citizens are important to society, a huge shift back to “taking care of our own” can be made. It is a bountiful and so beautiful relationship that affects two of our most vulnerable populations in very positive ways.
How You Can Help
Although you could look into per diem nursing job opportunities by giftedhealthcare.com, or other similar jobs, it doesn’t take this to make a difference. Talk to your children about how important it is to respect out older population. Talk to your local schools or daycare centers about implementing one of these fantastic programs in your local area. Or, call one of your local nursing homes and ask if there are any residents who do not get visitors and would like to have them. Every small step makes a monumental difference.