Have you ever heard an older adult utter these words while wistfully watching a group of young children playing on the playground, or just about anywhere children like to play? If you have, you’re not alone, and the old folks who say this just might be on to something that really works. However, they won’t need to actually bottle up the energy of children in order to feel a whole lot better. All they have to do is hang around with them on a regular basis.
There may be a secret to staying youthful, or at least young at heart, as we age. Kids! As parents, we often hear that caring for children keeps us young, at least in theory, but children may also help older adults maintain good health and a positive outlook on life. What’s even better is that older adults don’t need to provide care for children in order to get the positive wellness benefits of being around them. They just need to hang out with kids and enjoy the vitality that just oozes out of them. What could be more fun than that?
Hanging out with kids has been shown in some studies to actually relieve depression, increase exercise, and reduce medication usage in older adults. But not every older adult has access to spending quality time with children. With an increasing number of older adults who have either no grandchildren or have grandchildren that live far away, this intergenerational exchange can be difficult for some to obtain. Organizations have taken note and are creating some interesting and innovative opportunities for youth and older adults to play.
According to this article from US News & World Report, kids can benefit from the interactions with their elders just as much as the older adults. In one study, interacting with older adults resulted in a reduction of drug and alcohol use, an increase in school attendance, and a decrease in aggressive behaviors among the kids involved. Setting up opportunities for kids and older adults is nothing but a win-win proposition. The article also gives tips on ways to include children in a senior’s life, even if that senior doesn’t have grandchildren of his or her own.
Dr. Bill Thomas, founder of The Eden Alternative, a non-profit organization dedicated to creating quality of life for the elderly, also believes that being in the presence of children helps older adults thrive, build resilience, and avoid depression. Health insurance provider Humana shares this belief in the power of youth and healthy aging. Humana has worked with non-profit KaBoom to build and sponsor multigenerational playgrounds with equipment suitable for all ages that can combine the benefits of physical activity and mingling with children in order to maximize the benefits of exercise and to help motivate older adults to move around more.
At Regency Home Care of Georgia, we are always interested in hearing about and implementing fun and smart new ways to help older adults keep connected to the world around them so they can stay healthy and well. To find out more about our senior home care services, contact us today.