Intergenerational Daycare Program Connects Seniors with Children

| August 3, 2013 | 0 Comments

 

Seniors and youngsters interact with each other throughout the day.

Seniors and youngsters interact with each other throughout the day.

St. Paul’s Senior Homes & Services, located at 328 Maple Street, between Hillcrest and downtown San Diego, offers one of the first intergenerational daycare programs in Southern California. Started in 1997, the intergenerational daycare program brings together children and seniors to benefit the lives of both.

St. Paul’s Intergenerational Program has a daily connection between younger children and seniors. Many other intergenerational programs connect high school students and seniors, but on a once-a-week or once-a-month basis. Twice a day, and at lunch, the children from the Childcare Program come together with the seniors in the Senior Day Program for creative activities like reading, arts and crafts, sing-alongs, dancing and learning opportunities.

When intergenerational daycare appeared on the scene in the early 1990s, some experts predicted it would be for working Americans, 44 percent of whom have both dependent children and aging parents. Not only did intergenerational daycare offer convenience for families, it held out a promise to reduce ageism among younger generations and dispel what Vera Roos, a professor of psychology at North-West University in South Africa, described as an assumption that aging is nothing but “a kind of extended terminal illness.”

Elderly adults participating in structured activities with children are more focused and in better moods than when children are not involved, scientists have found. Moreover, adults continue to be in better spirits after the children leave, suggesting the interactions may have lasting effects. Even adults with mild to moderate cognitive deficits do better when involved in activities with children.

Elderly adults in age-integrated daycare programs don’t actually take care of children — that’s the staff’s job — but they do have an enormous impact on children’s lives, researchers have found. Compared to their peers in traditional preschools, children in intergenerational daycare programs are more patient, express more empathy, exhibit more self-control and have better manners.

The Senior Day Program is for seniors with mild-to-onset dementia and it has 60 places for adults. The cost of the senior day program is $55 a day and they can come day by day, weekly or monthly. The program is open from 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

The Child Daycare Program is for children from two months to pre-kindergarten and it has 82 places. Both programs are in the same building.

To learn more about St. Paul’s Intergenerational Program, visit http://www.stpaulseniors.org, or call Liam Dunfey, director of Admissions, Marketing, Public Relations, and Senior Day Program at (619) 239-6900.

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