The U.S. population is aging. Today, there are more than 46 million older adults age 65 and older living in the U.S. By 2030, 1 in 5 Americans is projected to be 65 years old and over. This trend makes it more important than ever that there are efforts going on to enhance the aging experience.
One such effort is the Intergenerational Learning Center at the Providence Mount St. Vincent, a senior facility in West Seattle. This program brings together pre-kindergarten children and seniors. The Intergenerational Learning Center was very small when it started 30 years ago, but it has blossomed into an award-winning program that has been recognized around the world and imitated in various other organizations.
Young children come to the facility for daycare where they engage in activities with the senior residents. They sing, drum, play memory games, swap stories, etc. The older adults benefit from the social interaction resulting in decreased loneliness, delayed mental decline, lower blood pressure, and reduced risk of disease and death. The kids become more understanding of the aging process, which makes them less likely to exhibit ageism. It also helps the children feel more comfortable around people with disabilities and impairments.
The program has become so popular that there’s a wait list of over 400 families who want their children to get into the program. You can read more about it and see some wonderful photos in this article. We hope this type of intergenerational learning continues to be included in more and more facilities. We can all push for a better system of supports for older Americans.