A couple of years ago, I took my rescued dog through training to be a therapy dog and we embarked on an adventure. Buddy and I regularly do hospital visits and visits with the elderly. We started off visiting the elderly that live independently. During these visits, we became friends with a woman I will call Carol. She is soon to be 90 years old.
Carol had a fall which took her on her own personal story to a hospital, nursing home and finally to assisted living. Buddy and I followed her wherever she was. When we went into the nursing home, my eyes opened wide. I saw how the patients in the nursing home were either mindless or clear in the mind with either old age or a medical problem. I saw how many of the patients were bored out of their minds. When my dog and I walked in, it was as if the lights got turned on and during my visits I met interesting, engaging, loving elders who were starved for meaningful attention.
During my drive home one afternoon I listened to a radio report about an Intergenerational Care Center in Seattle, Washington, which was very interesting. Then I saw it on television:
My husband and I have a piece of land here in Rockledge on US 1 that has been waiting for something good to be on it. 24% of our population in Brevard County is over 65 and that statistic won’t change for at least 15 more years. There is nothing like an intergenerational care center in Brevard.
Our ultimate goal is to build this center and replicate it. There are not enough Intergenerational Care Centers in the United States. A 1995 AARP study found more than 400 organizations across the country that were currently operating or planning to open an intergenerational shared site. Studies are not up to date.
Older adults are living longer, increasing in number, and are generally healthier than ever before. With changing patterns of retirement, many older adults find themselves spending a longer period of time in retirement and they want new options for living environments. Eighty-three percent of older adults report that volunteering and community service will play a role in their plans for retirement.
Intergenerational shared sites provide opportunities, for even the frailest older people, to continue to learn and become involved and connected with others. Older adults in intergenerational shared-site settings are less likely to feel isolated, but instead feel more valued and invested in their communities and hopeful for the future.
There is a never ending demand for child care of all types. This combination works wonders for both parties.