There is often a misconception that having a “generation gap” means we cannot connect with people who are from a different time to us – whether they be younger or older.
However, there are many benefits from encouraging intergenerational experiences with the elderly. It allows the older person some value and purpose in the interaction and for the younger person it gives them an opportunity to learn from someone with more life experience, while also teaching them to be compassionate.
Homestyle’s commitment to nourishing our residents’ interests and continuing to promote new and diverse experiences has seen the establishment of a range of Intergenerational Programs as a planned initiative during 2016-2017.
One particular program was the Intergenerational Musical Memories Pilot Project which was a part of Mooroondah City Council’s active and healthy ageing initiative which hope to help creating an age friendly community.
Mary Katsikis, the program’s coordinator, explains that the aim of the program is “to bring together older residents from within an aged care facility and disenfranchised youths to connect and bond through the conjugate of music.”
One Homestyle resident, Bob, explained that “I enjoy being with young people because having lived 91 years, surely you can pass a few things onto them”.
Partnering with Maroondah Council and Swinburne TAFE, Ferndale Gardens hosted a series of sessions during which students from Swinburne and residents from Ferndale Gardens paired up through the common interest of music.
Many of the residents and the student have created strong connections, to the surprise of many. Robyn Murphy from Homestyle said that she “expected them to get on well” but that “there have been true bonds formed here”.
“Every participant that has been involved has come away from this week by week feeling more positive, more engaged, more excited about their day to day life.”
“They formed beautiful relationships with the students that have been involved – it’s been positive beyond our wildest dreams.”
Joan was partnered with student Cory, whom she said got on with “like a house on fire” and that they “clicked from the word ‘go’
– “he’s just a pleasure to be with”.
Cory saw that they have a “good connection” but struggled to find the words to describe it. “We care for each other, just feels like my nan pretty much”.
Times shared were filled with smiles, laughter and learning about each other. In the words of one of the residents who participated “we’re having fun here”. This is especially meaningful when we consider that aged care environments are not always thought of as “fun”.
Age barriers were broken down and stereotypes were left at the door as all participants began to meet through the language of music.
The video speaks much more eloquently than these words convey so please take five minutes to sample the wonderful experience that this program has been for residents and students alike.