In Seattle, amongst the discarded coffee cups and heads bent low to avoid the rain, there is a beautiful partnership brewing that spans generations: the Intergenerational Learning Center (ILC), housed within the walls of Providence Mount St. Vincent assisted living facility. This arrangement solves one of the underlying problems of our society– the lack of wisdom passed down the generations.
The brilliant idea that is the ILC takes a solid swipe at this generational disconnect. This program places a pre-school inside of an assisted living facility. Imagine lonely octogenarian widows and widowers, lonely and isolated, being greeted by wee ones. Being asked questions that are at once awkward and disarming, watching the kids cry and yell and flop about like a litter of puppies. The learning and the joy!
It is no secret that the aging population is increasing (please see our previous blog posts for further information on this). A great way to combat the shortage of qualified help in the future is to break down the stigma that exists between youth and Elder.
At the ILC, children get used to seeing and interacting with people in wheelchairs, using walkers, oxygen, canes, etc. This creates kids who are able to interact comfortably with not only the elderly, but with others with special needs as well.
If only this could become a norm. Add in more access to nature for both youth and the elderly and I believe many a problem in this country could be avoided. I find it worthwhile to imagine better situations, better solutions to the problems we as people face. I believe the ILC to be an elegantly simple solution to a whole range of problems.
As I prepare for this post, and inevitably comb through the bevy of articles and assorted content about preparing your home for an elderly loved one moving in, I can’t help but notice that the list is always pretty much the same:
- Fall Prevention and Awareness. As a home healthcare provider, it might behoove you to go to a professional, dedicated long term care facility and pay attention to what is and what is not present in the nursing home environment. It seems to me that the biggest task is to start thinking like someone with declining mobility. What things that you or I might take for granted might need to be changed or removed altogether?
- Family Changes are a comin’. With the addition of at least one human being, your household dynamics are going to change drastically. Change can be a great motivator. We at securesafetysolutions.com encourage you to let this change motivate your family to become closer. Set a goal to let this be an opportunity for yourself and your children to honor their elders. Pre-planning can help immensely. Meet with your family as far in advance of the move-in date as possible. Include the aforementioned safety concerns.
- Finances Play a Role. Is it a financial decision to move your mother or father into your house? Hopefully not fully. But it can be another reason to take into account. Or not. Maybe it really would be better for everyone to look into a dedicated care facility. Professionals are available to help with all of this. There are going to be hidden costs. Who will be with mom when you are working? How will you divide food costs? Will she have her own car? If not, who is taking her where?
These three areas will require a lot of thought on your part. Take time to meet as a family regularly. Break the ice and discuss the hard things. Bring in outside help for these discussions if you feel you are too close emotionally to be objective. Taking in an Elder is an act of love. Certain steps can ensure that this love is reciprocated and transmitted through the generations.