Monthly Archives: September 2017

How Intergenerational Programs Benefit All Ages

Bridging the gap through connectedness

As an increasing number of Americans age, the gap between young and old becomes larger and larger. And with it, comes gaps in knowledge of each other’s generation. Intergenerational programs offer great ways to help bridge these gaps, encouraging people of all ages to connect with one another, build meaningful relationships and work together on programs that help entire communities. These programs not only offer many benefits, but they are easy to adapt within your senior living facility.

What are intergenerational programs?

Intergenerational programs bring together seniors and young people to build unexpected friendships, learn new skills and encourage community service. Intergenerational programs can range from planned, all-day activities to casual, hour-long discussions. Examples of intergenerational programs include teens pairing with seniors to give tech lessons, providing companionship or assisting with everyday errands, or seniors mentoring youth, offering childcare services or teaching oral history. These programs can also bring both sides together to work on community service projects, such as cleaning up a local park or raising funds for a local charity.

Intergenerational programs benefits

Intergenerational programs offer numerous benefits to people of all ages. These programs encourage relationship building and engagement in the community, which can help prevent isolation and depression in seniors. According to Generations United, intergenerational programs even offer health benefits to seniors. Older adults who work regularly with young children burn more calories, have fewer falls and perform better on cognitive tests than those who don’t.

These activities also provide opportunities for seniors and their younger counterparts to interact with each other and gain a better understanding of each generation, discouraging ageism toward seniors and teaching teens how to speak to and build respect with their elders. These dynamic partnerships can also provide kids with a role model, and participating in these programs regularly can keep them out of trouble. Intergenerational programs that double as community service or volunteer projects can also help teens earn credits for school or explore potential career opportunities.

How to adopt intergenerational programs in your facility

The options for incorporating intergenerational programs into your senior living community are endless. Building weekly or monthly programs into your senior living facility builds routine and stability for both age groups and encourages relationships to grow over time.

To bring intergenerational programs into your facility, contact the guidance counselor at your local schools or send newsletters to your residents’ families. Many family members and grandchildren would love the chance to share in these activities and provide a loving environment to seniors who may feel isolated. Even seniors who participate in activities and have family members close by will benefit from interaction with local youth.

Here are a few examples of intergenerational programs that you can try adding to your facility:

  • Reach out to a local high school class to see if they would be willing to teach basic computer or mobile device skills to seniors.
  • Set up monthly oral history lessons from seniors, with a theme or topic each meeting.
  • Invite local organizations to hold meetings in your space, giving seniors the opportunity to stay engaged in the community while feeling a sense of accomplishment.
  • Partner seniors with youth to offer mentoring or tutoring.
  • Schedule teens to stop by your senior living facility each week to spend time with seniors to help them with simple tasks, such as running to the post office or drugstore.
  • Consider adding a childcare space to your facility. This interaction with young children has been shown to improve seniors mental and physical health.

If you’re still at a loss of what programs to offer in your senior living community, just ask. Asking seniors what they need help with or what activities they would like to participate in will make them feel valued, and give you some fun ideas for intergenerational programs that you can adopt in your facility.

How senior living facilities can encourage intergenerational programs

As the needs and expectations for senior living communities grow, so do the needs for the facilities they run in. In order for a senior living facility to encourage participation in intergenerational programs, the facility must allow for multiple uses and offer a comfortable environment for people of all ages.

Considering factors like facility efficiency, room for expansions or upgrades, evolving technology, and recreational opportunities are all important when deciding to add intergenerational programs in your senior living facility.

If you’re looking to adopt some of these programs in your facility, contact us at 920-969-9344 to see how we can make your facility friendly to all generations.

Person-Centered Care for Dementia



What we can learn from Hogeweyk and other unique care villages

Hogeweyk, a village in the Netherlands made up of seniors living with dementia and their caretakers, was developed in 2009 after a nearly 20-year stint as a traditional nursing home. The concept captures attention in our industry for its innovative approach to caring for people with memory loss. Since Hogeweyk’s inception, other similar villages followed the unique design, both in the United States and abroad. Much of Hogeweyk’s design features a host of activities that focus on individual tastes—a part of what we have now come to know as person-centered care for dementia.

If you haven’t heard about Hogeweyk, it’s a village of 23 homes, a grocery store, entertainment venues and parklike spaces. While a resident can shop in the store or even buy a beer at a pub, for those with advanced dementia, the currency they use is fake. But, to them, the experience of living in this village is very real.

Rising needs for memory care

As we reported in our “Memory Care Facility Design” blog last March, as baby boomers age, we can expect a significant uptick in the need for memory care. The industry is already responding, according to the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing and Care (NIC). The NIC says that at the end of 2015, the industry added more than 7,000 memory care units in 2015 alone, a 7.4 percent increase. At the end of 2015, 12,200 memory care units were under construction.

It may come as no surprise, then, that those who are preparing for an influx of residents needing memory care look to unique practices for ideas on how to provide the best care to this population. That’s where person-centered care for dementia finds success.

Memory care trends point to person-centered care

Very few in the industry have the financial ability to build a village, but the feeling of inclusion and independence is something that can be replicated. Although more than 150 people live in the village, it remains a great example of person-centered care. Studies have shown that in person-centered care, dementia patients respond positively to participating in activities they personally enjoy, having a say in their care and living in a homelike environment.

LeadingAge discussed some ways members are making personal connections—and therefore focusing on the individual—in memory care. Here are just a few of the ideas:

  • A senior living community in Louisville, Ky., learns the life story of residents before they enter care. Residents are paired with a “best friend,” who helps make connections to their life before they entered a senior living community.
  • This same facility uses these life stories to find ways to calm agitated residents. A former lawyer is given a legal brief to read when he becomes upset; a former baker is given flour to work with, as if to make biscuits.
  • Many communities find other ways for residents to participate in activities that were once a big part of their lives. For example, pianists and singers entertain or lead religious service hymns.

It’s important to also note that person-centered care focuses as much on what individuals don’t like to do. One Texas administrator pointed to the popular activity of bingo as an example of understanding individual tastes, “Some people absolutely hate the number calling … and the repetitiveness. Why are you going to put someone in that position if it’s something that they don’t tolerate?”

Ask us how we can help

As you can see, you don’t need to build an entire village to find ways to implement person-centered care for dementia. But, you will need to find ways—inside and outside of your facility—to accommodate residents’ favored activities. Nature lovers will appreciate courtyards and walking trails. Artists may want a quiet, well-lit area to practice their craft.

If you are considering remodeling your community to accommodate memory care patients or are thinking about adding a memory care unit to your current facility, give us a call. Our process begins with a master plan that includes a market analysis. For your free consultation, contact Terry McLaughlin at 920-969-9344.