Fill the Gap: Intergenerational Relationships

The (Re)Generation Game

three-generations-of-malesAt a time when there is so much negative (and fake) news around, it was a pleasure to read a story that focuses on positive relationships – and what happens when you put pensioners and four year olds together for six weeks.

In an unusual experiment,  a group of 4 year olds spent time with pensioners in a nursing home for six weeks, in a bid to improve the quality of life for the residents.

The results surprised the researchers at the University of Bath.

Renewed Joy, New Bonds

According to research team leader and ageing expert Professor Malcolm Johnson, the experiments revealed that simply playing games with the children, walking around the grounds of the home with them and participating in a sports day had a “transformative effect”, with strong bonds being formed and extremely depressed residents finding a new zest for living.

In the end, for these lonely, infirm people, a little love from some little people, went a very long way! 

I can attest to the impact of the strength of these bonds, from my own family: my grandmother died at 104 years old(!) – and her mind was as sharp as a whip and she had a wicked sense of humour!  There were six generations of family coming and going all the time, keeping her mind active….and we had to stop her in her mid-80s from going to work!

I remember the closest bonds Mama Benjamin had were with the youngest children — I like to think that the beginning of life and the end of life can be much the same, in some respects, and that the elderly and children resonate with one another and complete the circle of life.