It is perhaps one of modern society’s most ambivalent acts — bundling our elderly away to be looked after by strangers till death, ABC News reports.
But long before aged care homes became the norm, older people often stayed in family homes and played a large role in bringing up children.
Playgroup SA chief executive Craig Bradbrook said the past two decades had seen a worldwide push to reunite the two age groups in support of the old adage “it takes a village to raise a child”.
“I think it’s taken us quite a while as a society to realise the importance of community connection,” he said.
“As our population ages, how do we then engage the elderly back into the community?”
Playgroup SA has established 14 so-called intergenerational playgroups across the state and this week launched its first partnership with Eldercare to bring together pre-schoolers and aged care residents.
Since January, young children and their parents have been mucking about with grandparents and great-grandparents at the Evanston Park aged care facility in Gawler each week.
“Here we have a perfect, almost village-like atmosphere where we see our older people in society, some of our wisest community members, able to connect with our young kids and their parents,” Mr Bradbrook said.
A 2014 research paper cited by Playgroup SA and published in the peer-reviewed journal BMC Geriatrics, found aged care residents, particularly those with dementia, experienced a notable increase in their sense of dignity as a result of intergenerational playgroups.
It alleviated feelings of isolation, loneliness and disengagement from communities, increased self-esteem and happiness, and made them more active in the community.
“The positive benefits of ageless play are clear,” Mr Bradbrook said.
Craig Bradbrook meets Eldercare resident Loris Schmidt and her new young friend.