Choosing a daycare for your child is a difficult task that many working parents have to face. One option to look into is intergenerational care, which is daycare that combines the care of older adults with the care of children. The specific details of these programs will vary, but most encourage and provide opportunities for the elderly to mix with the young children.
The older adults are encouraged to volunteer to work with the children. This might be done by reading to children, singing songs, doing activities, rocking infants or eating with the children. The adults attending the program do not take the place of qualified staff members, but are used in addition to the professional staff that is hired to work at the facility. The older adults who attend and volunteer are typically high functioning and are seen as mentors to the children.
A "daycare" for older adults is an option for the elderly who resist attending a nursing home but who cannot or choose not to be alone during the day. These adults may live alone or be cared for by family members. Attending an intergenerational care center can have many benefits for the older adults that attend.
- Intergenerational daycare can give older adults a sense of purpose and a feeling of giving back to the community.
- Working with children can improve the mood of older adults.
- Older adults who attend a program like this tend to have better emotional and mental health.
- These adults might also show improved physical and cognitive functioning from participating in activities with the children.
- This type of care can be less expensive than hiring a home health aide.
There are also many benefits for the children who attend an intergenerational daycare.
- Children become used to being around elderly people and are not scared or intimidated by physical characteristics of older adults.
- Children get more one on one attention than they would in a traditional daycare. The addition of the volunteers allows for adult-to-child ratios to go down. This is especially helpful with infants and younger children who rely strongly on adults.
- The children have a mentor that they can develop relationships with and feel close to.
Intergenerational daycare centers probably look a little different than regular daycare centers. They need to be accessible for both children and elderly. They likely have both common and separate spaces both inside and out for the elderly and the children. Staff members need to be trained to work with both elderly and young children. If you want an experience that can offer unique benefits for your child (or older adult!), consider an intergenerational daycare program (such as Mountainside School).