Spotlight on Caregiving: Fostering Intergenerational Connections

From the Alzheimer’s Association of America

To many, it seems that the old and the young are growing further and further apart-whether by increasing distances or emerging technologies. Intergenerational programming, however, can help foster communication and connections, including those between youngsters and individuals with Alzheimer’s disease.

Comfort & Joy is one intergenerational program that has proven just that. The Philadelphia-based program includes a wide array of creative arts projects that unite teenagers from Philadelphia Schools with residents of NewCourtland Elder Services, a conglomerate of seven nursing nursing homes. Activities throughout the school year include choirs, mural-making and quilting.

From now through June 12, NewCourtland will host the Art is Ageless Exhibit-an artistic collaboration between the New Courtland seniors and local students at The Center for Emerging Visual Arts in Philadelphia.

In addition to structured programs at long-term care facilities, intergenerational activities can be facilitated by caregivers at home. Here are a few activities to unite the generations:

– Make a collage or painting. Through collaborative activities, the talents of both individuals will shine through, and they will have a finished project to be proud of.
– Do easily-manageable household chores, such as folding laundry or clipping coupons, which promote a feeling of making a valuable contribution to the household.
– Engage in the creative arts, such as writing a poem or singing a song, creating the perfect opportunity for self-expression and reminiscing.
– Get cooking. Making a sandwich or mixing cake batter (with appropriate kitchen utensils) can help prompt conversation and help the person with dementia recall memories as well as teach some skills to youngsters.

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