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Senior living facilities encourage intergenerational interactions

Posted October 11, 2023 in Articles


Senior living facilities are working to improve intergenerational interactions, helping enrich the lives of their residents and create a sense of community throughout the facility.

Part of creating these communities comes from continued effort from both the volunteers and residents to spend quality time together.

Senior living facilities encourage intergenerational interactions

“It’s not a one-off deal,” said Marie Smith, lead life enrichment coordinator at Menorah Park in Beachwood. “It’s not someone from the outside coming in, but that these organizations are becoming integral parts of our community.”

Menorah Park works with schools and organizations to get young volunteers involved with developing these relationships, including Fundamentals Daycare, a daycare facility on Menorah Park’s campus. Children from Fundamentals Daycare visit the senior living facility once a month, where they participate in activities with the residents.

Senior living facilities encourage intergenerational interactions

Marie Smith

“Every month I plan a different activity,” Smith said. “We’ve enjoyed some gardening projects and crafts. Our residents love to read to them, so we often have multiple residents reading different books to the children.”

These activities, along with others held in conjunction with Better Together, a national Jewish grant funding program focused on creating social and educational programs with older adults, and Friendship Circle, a social program for older, neurodiverse adults, help encourage the volunteers and residents to create lasting relationships.

“That’s the beauty of these programs, there’s so much investment on both sides and that does make it increasingly enriching and important,” she said.

Kathy Kemper-Busch, owner and family and nurse liaison at Kemper Cognitive Wellness in Rocky River, finds that intergenerational interactions are “welcome” and “needed” in senior living facilities.

“Our residents are all over the babies and the little kids,” Kemper-Busch said. “They are like natural grandmas and grandpas.”

Kemper Cognitive Wellness works specifically with older adults with dementia, so volunteers go through a training process to better prepare them for the time spent with residents.

“We do a lot of, ‘Don’t be afraid if they do this. Don’t worry, they’re not going to hurt you’,” she said. “What we find often is that a lot of these young kids have never been around older people.”

The interactions between the young volunteers and older residents can create a mutually beneficial relationship. It encourages young people to be “compassionate” towards their elders and the older adults “love the kindness shown to them,” Kemper-Busch said. “I don’t want people to be afraid of older people or the person with dementia,” she said. “I want them to embrace them and know that their interaction, their touch, their smile is so valuable to these folks.”

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