This blog post was written by JFS Communications Intern, Jill Salzman
Often, seniors and children are portrayed as being at odds with one another. Children today are coming of age in a time of rapidly developing technology, a world very different from the one their grandparents knew. Recently we came across a video about a very unique nursing home, where the very old interact with the very young; this posed the question: What can the very old offer the very young?
The video is part of a documentary entitled “Present Perfect” by Evan Briggs and tells the story of a nursing home in Seattle, Washington that is home to more than 400 elderly residents. But what makes this story different is that the nursing home also features a preschool, and the story is inspirational.
According to the video, 43% of older adults experience social isolation, which is closely related to depression and loneliness. And what these young children have to offer the elderly is the opposite of isolation: happiness and friendship. They engage in shared activities such as dancing, drawing, and cooking as well as story and play time. Conversely, the elderly offer the young a very important lesson on caring for the elderly and respect–a lesson that many would say cannot be learned too early. And while the elderly may face different challenges than youth, the two share meaningful time as friends.
America’s population is aging rapidly: According to the US Census Bureau, there are currently 48 million people aged 65+ in the population, a number which is expected to grow to over 60 million by 2025. With a large percent of the population becoming older, it will become more important to discover new ways to effectively care for the elderly. Perhaps we should all take a note from this Seattle nursing home and create more opportunities for the old and young to spend time together.
If you or a loved one is a senior suffering from chronic isolation, there are resources in JFS Care Management, Counseling and Friendly Visitor/Telephone Reassurance to help you. We believe that it is important to have a friend or advocate in your life that will look after you.