It’s almost morning tea time at Milford Lodge Childcare Centre in Buderim and there is a sense of purpose and excitement in the air – the children have special guests coming to visit! In preparation, the more than 30 children from ages two to five years are busy setting tables with napkins and teacups, choosing favourite books to read, and bringing out games to play. Their guests are Bromilow clients, who are just as excited as the children to be attending such a fun-filled morning.
Bromilow’s clients fortnightly visits to Milford Lodge are a positive example of ‘intergenerational care’. Intergenerational social service programs help to provide meaningful interactions that are proven to combat loneliness, boost cognitive stimulation, and give a sense of purpose, belonging and value to people, both the young and the elderly.
Lack of interaction between generations may increase feelings of isolation and loneliness, but also reinforce stereotypes and reduce cross-age sensitivity and respect. Research is telling us that the physical and mental health benefits of intergenerational socialisation are significant for making the brain more resilient to early signs of dementia, slowing the ageing process and promoting healthy longevity in the senior years. That’s why programs such as our Milford Lodge visits are so vital for our client’s health and happiness.
Together, the children and their elderly guests enjoy activities such as art and craft, singing, story-time, playing with blocks, puzzles, baking shortbread, listening to the piano in our ballroom or simply engaging in meaningful conversations around the table over morning tea. Many children don’t have grandparents to talk to and they clearly enjoy sharing their stories with keen listeners. These visits also help the children develop positive attitudes towards ageing, disability and difference, and to learn what empathy and kindness look and feel like from the elderly.