Pilot trial brings together older adults and preschoolers, inspired by television show

Pilot trial brings together older adults and preschoolers, inspired by television show

by Freya Lucas

April 21, 2021

Psychologists and geriatricians from UNSW, University of Sydney and Griffith University will spend 10 weeks within the school term at St Nics’ Christian Preschool in Coogee as part of an Australian first pilot trial bringing together older adults and preschoolers to assess the mutual health benefits of intergenerational activity, such as reducing frailty and depression.

 

The study has been inspired by the  award-winning ABC series, Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds, and will see older adults and young children engage in a structured series of investigative, artistic and educational activities together.

 

Evidence suggests these planned intergenerational activities might reduce frailty and improve mood and thinking skills in the older adults, and also improve empathy and language development and reduce age stereotypes in the younger participants.

 

“Early research indicates these programs could lead to better physical health and cognition among adults over the age of 65, and better interpersonal skills among children under the age of 5,” program lead Associate Professor Ruth Peters said. 

 

Support for the program was gathered from the community prior to the pilot being initiated, with 258 parents, teachers and older adults responding to a survey, in which more than 92 per cent of respondents indicated that the program has the potential to increase understanding and friendships across generations, provide unique learning opportunities and improve communication skills in children, while also reducing loneliness and isolation in older adults.

 

“Children and older adults can be the perfect companions and build lovely partnerships where they both really care for each other,” the Associate Professor said. 

 

Should the pilot be successful, a larger follow-on trial will test whether the Intergenerational Integration Initiative could be rolled out to wider communities and eventually throughout New South Wales, and around the country. 

 

The study has been funded by the UNSW Ageing Futures Institute, with in-kind support from St Nicolas’ Church and Preschool and Anglicare.

 

Results from the pilot trial are likely to be available in July 2021. For more information on the study, please visit neura.edu.au/intergenerational-integration-initiative/

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