Intergenerational contact is the purposeful bringing together of two generations for the benefit of both – in this case older adults and preschool children. Intergenerational practice may be an innovative way of improving the health and wellbeing of older adults while supporting the development of young children.
About the project
Through the INTERACTION trial, researchers ran weekly intergenerational preschool programs for community dwelling older adults. Each two-hour session included shared activities targeting physical and cognitive function and mood, and tailored to the Early Years Learning Framework for Australia.
The intergenerational sessions were well received and attended by children and older adults in two Sydney communities, who described friendships and joy. The next step is to expand to more locations to show beyond doubt whether these sessions can bring health benefits, which could include improving older adults’ physical and cognitive abilities, mood and social engagement, while helping them maintain independence and preventing frailty. Benefits to the children may include increased empathy and language ability. If shown to be effective there are opportunities for scaling up the programs and making them available within existing community facilities nationwide.
The research team evaluated whether the intergenerational sessions are acceptable and deliverable and measured physical and cognitive performance, mood and quality of life in the older adults and language and socio-emotional development in children.