What happens when you pair two generations together? This is being answered across the U.S. and right here in Northeast Ohio with intergenerational living.
While the concept is newer to the greater Cleveland area, it is growing. Some senior facilities have already combined services with an on-campus daycare facility, which gives preschoolers and residents an opportunity to do activities together.
One example is Kendal at Oberlin that provides a daycare called the Kendal Early Learning Center at the senior complex. This integration allows the groups to interact daily with joint activities like meals, playtime, and more.
According to Center Director Jeni Hoover, there are five to six planned events per week, such as residents reading to the children. They also have at least one big function monthly, like “Mardi Gras.” Some seniors also just pop in to watch or say “hi.”
Both parties benefit from the interaction. For some children who live far away from their grandparents, the seniors might become like surrogate family to them. Also, when kids have contact with the residents, it can normalize the aging process and reduce the fear of someone different from them.
Also, according to the retirement community’s website, “friendships grow with high school-age staff that work in the dining rooms. And Oberlin College students are frequent volunteers.”
Students from the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music and residents from Kendal even worked together and provided their expertise in performance to set design for the opera theater production of “Strawberry Fields” this past January.
The Ohio Living Breckenridge Village has the Clapp Children’s Center on its campus. According to Marketing Director Lucy Nixon, this child care facility houses over 40 children from age six weeks to preschool age, mostly the children of employees. So, here, an employee benefit can also benefit the seniors living there. As with other such programs, the seniors love to be around the young children and vice versa. They have “Booville” each Halloween for the kids in the hallways and a summer carnival where the children and seniors play together.
Breckinridge extends the intergenerational interaction by hiring 35 to 60 high school students to help serve meals in some of the dining rooms. Everyone becomes like a second family. The students even bring limos and prom dates to show off to the residents. Plus, Breckenridge has an endowment fund to assist with college costs for these student employees.
For more information, call Kendal at Oberlin at 440-775-0094 or Ohio Living Breckenridge Village at 440-954-8364.
Laurie G. Steiner is a member of the law firm of Solomon, Steiner & Peck, Ltd. She is a Certified Elder Law Attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation and the Ohio State Bar Association. She practices in the areas of Elder Law, Medicaid, VA and Disability Planning, and Estate and Trust Planning and Administration ssandplaw.com