There’s something about hearing a child talk about how “cool” a senior adult is that just makes you smile. At Orchard Pointe at Terrazza senior living community, it happens a lot, thanks to creative life enrichment activities that are bringing generations together for entertainment, learning, and a whole lot of fun.
Generations come together at Orchard Pointe at Terrazza
Multigenerational programming occurs in many ways at our community:
- Young children come to Orchard Pointe at Terrazza to sing and perform for residents; read to them; visit during special holidays; trick or treat at Halloween; and more.
- Residents in the Orchard Pointe Bell Choir visit the same children at their school to perform for them.
- Both groups engage and connect with one another at area events.
And the best part? Everyone benefits! Our residents find a new purpose and energy being around younger folks. The children quickly lose any fear they might have had about being around seniors. And families see how happy their older loved ones are when they join in these unique programs.
“We are always looking for a way to bring in more positivity into the lives of our residents,” says Cindy Powell, Life Enrichment Director at Orchard Pointe at Terrazza, “and our intergenerational programs are a great way to do just that. For instance, our community partners with an area preschool to have their two-, three-, and four-year-olds perform musical numbers for our residents,” she said. “Our residents absolutely love it; they talk about it for days.”
In addition, a nearby elementary school has “basically adopted us,” says Powell. “They make cards for our residents, as well as small craft items that can be hung as decorations. It delights our residents; they just go on and on about them. Our residents also make cards for the children.”
These busy third graders also occasionally read to residents. “This is so popular with our residents, especially our former teachers who really enjoy having the children read to them. It’s a wonderful relationship.”
Powell says Orchard Trace at Terrazza also invites high school students to come and practice or perform a recital. “We’ve also had swimmers in Special Olympics use our pool to practice, which our residents love to watch.”
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Senior bell choir has lots of young fans
The entertainment goes up a notch when the Bell Choir from Orchard Pointe at Terrazza performs at the elementary school.
“The children are so respectful and totally engaged in the performance,” says Powell. “Some of the children will recognize a resident they have read to and become positively giddy! They want their photo taken with them; they are so proud. In fact, we’ve created ‘trading cards’ for each bell choir member that they can give to a child after a performance. The card has their name, their favorite activities, what note or bell they play, et cetera. It’s something they can give a child who comes up to them; it is a way to get past any shyness.”
The trading cards were a big hit at a recent Orchard Pointe Bell Choir performance before a crowd of 250 at Arizona Broadway Theater. “Our bell choir performs many contemporary songs so they capture everyone’s attention.” In fact, Powell says members of the bell choir are now considered the “cool kids” at Orchard Pointe at Terrazza.
The benefits of generations mingling go on and on, according to Powell. “The energy of the young people just flows into the seniors,” she says. “They are sleeping better. They are happier. We are creating positivity, which is a big win for them. And it removes any anxiety they might have had about being around small children, just as it helps the children who previously might not have understood why an older person can’t walk or talk. I’ve seen how much confidence our seniors have gained since we started doing this.”
The need for multigenerational programming is taking the spotlight around the world
Powell stresses that bringing different age groups together helps combat the unfortunate effects of ageism. A report by the World Health Organization stated that ageist attitudes can lead to poor physical and mental health, and reduced quality of life for older persons. But it’s also younger people who feel the effects as well.
“I have seen more than one resident who might be on oxygen or use a walker, gain new confidence as a result of developing a bond with these children,” says Powell. “All the mutual apprehension goes out the window and they look at each other as something special.”
“I am so grateful that Orchard Pointe at Terrazza recognizes the value of these programs. And I love seeing the children realize that seniors can be really cool!”