Shrieks of delight and group renditions of “Wheels on the Bus” are not typical sounds that you hear when caring for the elderly in a senior living community. They are sounds, however, that have become commonplace at the Sunrise Senior Living in Beverly Hills which has partnered with a local “Mommy and Me” Toddler group for a program called Tots 2 Seniors.
The program is touted as a multigenerational playgroup that promotes “connections between different generations, diversity, empathy and a sense of community.” Tots 2 Seniors classes keep everyone engaged through “art, puppets, music and movement, and storytime,” and the seniors look forward to the class just as much as the toddlers.
In fact, according to a news story about Tots 2 Seniors on Los Angeles’ local CBS station, the class manages to get even the most introverted seniors out of their rooms and involved with the children every week. Many of the seniors interviewed by CBS agreed that spending time with the children helped them remain in the moment, feel more joyful and remember how to “truly enjoy life.”
For those seniors and caregivers who do not live in the Los Angeles area, there are lessons and actions you can take to bring the spirit of the Tots 2 Seniors program into your home.
Talk to Family
If you are caring for elderly parents at home and have grandchildren, your children might keep little ones away from your parents because they don’t want to bother them with a high-energy toddler. Talk to them about scheduling a regular time each week, or every other week, to come visit with the little ones and try to keep that time structured. Just like the Tots 2 Seniors program, having a “play plan” that includes storytime, art projects and dance can help keep toddlers engaged long enough to avoid tantrums and will provide your elderly loved one with something to look forward to each week. You can also use it as an opportunity to brainstorm new activities with your older loved one--encouraging them to get creative and have some fun!
Although the network of people you meet while caring for the elderly may not overlap with those who care for toddlers, check out what’s going on in your neighborhood or local community that involves children and see if you can inspire them to start your own program for tots and seniors. It might take a little bit of legwork and perseverance, but in addition to helping to bridge intergenerational gaps, you would also be bringing members of the community together in a new and exciting way. What better way to get to know your neighbors than to help care for their kids?
Caring for the elderly at home is not easy. In fact, many community centers and local programs offer activities and services to help you in caring for the elderly. Whether you reach out to your community center, JCC or YMCA or various senior centers and adult day care programs, you might be surprised to find that they are open to co-creating a program with you. And with more resources at their disposal, there’s more of a chance that a program that aims to bring toddlers and seniors together will get off the ground successfully.
Medical Guardian Supports Seniors and Caregivers
Medical Guardian is a strong supporter of seniors. We believe that anything that improves your quality of life is an important component to maintaining your health and wellbeing. For those of you who have been inspired to create change in your communities--we want to hear from you! We would love for you to share your story with us on the Medical Guardian Facebook page and we might end up featuring you in our next Spotlight article.
And for those caring for the elderly at home, a Medical Guardian medical alert device can be a useful tool in maintaining your peace of mind, too. We know that caring for a loved one can take a toll on your emotional, mental and physical health and Medical Guardian is here to take some of the burden off of you.