By Carmen Allgood

Ageing can have a lot of issues attached to it: The body is no longer at the top of its game and gravity is slowly but surely drawing the body down to its final resting place. We try not to complain, but Bette Davis probably said it best: Old age is no place for sissies.

As we age, there is also bound to be loss as friends and family age and inevitably cross over. What used to be a huge gathering during holidays and special occasions begins to dwindle, and many will suddenly become part of the nearly 50% of elderly people who feel isolated and alone. Then, when coupled with the physical ailments of ageing, which are made worse by feelings of loneliness, emotional issues can turn into a disaster and depression can easily set in.

But now, in an inspiring innovation, elderly Seattle residents are finding a new lease on life with a project that integrates preschool and aged care facilities, bringing children and elderly residents together for a variety of activities like music, dancing, art, storytelling and socialising.

‘Satellite of Love’ Brings New Life to Elderly Residents

With nearly seven billion people on the planet, it seems tragic and ironic that so many people in our communities feel so alone. Most of us will only have a handful of deep and lasting relationships throughout our lives. With that in mind, now would be the best time to seriously wake up and shower the people we love with love, especially those who need it the most …

And a dog shall lead the way!

More than 30 years ago, Therapy Dogs International developed the concept of Pet Therapy and infused nursing homes with visits from man’s best friend. Needless to say, the dogs had a profound effect on the residents. Dogs, as we know, love to nuzzle and be touched; the wag of a tail and happy smile can melt and heal hearts in a nanosecond. As a result, the sad and lonely were suddenly beaming while agitated individuals became calm and felt soothed by the devotion and unconditional love of their new canine companions.

Now a new trend is lighting up the world through Intergenerational Learning Centers (ILC), a childcare facility that allows preschool kids to interact with nursing home residents through various activities. The premise is simple: pre-schoolers hang out with elderly people at nursing homes during the day and everyone wins. (What a concept!) But the prototype facility is cutting-edge, located in Providence Mount St. Vincent in Seattle, Washington, and housing more than 400 elderly residents.

The bigger purpose behind such a bold move is to help children learn about the ageing process, lose their fear of older or infirm adults, and for both kids and elderly adults to come together to receive and give unconditional love and attention to each other.

Many of the residents are retired school teachers, and it is simply a natural progression for them to get back into the groove of hanging out with youngsters who always want to know more.

The planet just caught fire with a blaze of love so bright we cannot miss it!

Nothing lights up a room like children, puppies, and kittens. There is something eternally attractive about the innocence and curiosity of the young. New babies are the “royalty” of families, turning grown ups into mushy goofballs with no effort at all.

This project, captured by filmmaker Evan Briggs in the documentary ‘Present Perfect’, provides a sweet remedy to being “put out to pasture” when we have moved past our prime and no longer have ambitious interests (it happens!)

For all of us, eventually our work is done, and then it is just a hop, skip, and a jump to suddenly being “up there” — being elderly ourselves. But this does not mean our life is over. Our golden years could very well end up being the most rewarding chapters of our lives. And this progressive endeavour underscores the fact that love always increases our quality of life, no matter our age, and is the only force capable of igniting a revolution that bridges the huge gap in our society between those nearest the cradle and those nearest the grave.

Room For Growth

The concept of terrestrial thought as a whole becomes increasingly clear when loving intentions make way for a brighter more positive day. Great minds think alike, and it is never too surprising to see variations of spectacular ideas explode on the world’s stage all at once.

In Stillwater, Oklahoma, Golden Oaks Village is an independent and assisted living community that brings senior residents and four-year-olds together as part of their daily experience. Jeff Chappel, whose family owns several nursing communities north of Oklahoma City, has replicated a program he launched earlier in two smaller towns: Guthrie and Enid, Oklahoma.

Mr. Chappel approached the school district about establishing a preschool on the Golden Oaks Campus, which was approved immediately because the community would provide free classroom space when the district faced budget cuts. (Love wins again!)

The program currently has room for 20 four-year-olds, who hook up with residents as “Reading Buddies.” Of course every child thrives when they have adult attention directed at them as the star of the show. Having stories read to them is just the icing on the cake. Besides reading, there’s also music, arts and crafts, and games thrown in for good measure.

Where To Now?

What a remarkable world we live in, where the old care for the young and the young energise and give new life to the aged. Where else could this possibly be happening besides on this tiny planet we all call home?

Great ideas have a way of transferring around the world with little effort. With such positive results, I wouldn’t think these projects are going to lose steam or interest any time soon. Learning to take baby steps in this direction ensures that none of us will ever be left out or left behind in this circle and cycle of life.

Ageing and passing over are inevitable parts of life. The Baby Boomers are slipping into their final phase as senior citizens (fighting it tooth and nail, of course) and hot on their heels, Gen X is starting to show a little stress highlighting in their hair — but only if they still have hair!

What happens next in the Great Beyond is reflected in every positive situation that will ever transpire before our very eyes. Built on the wings of love, these projects present a perfect reminder that – as we all hope for in our hearts, and on some level fully understand and already know – Love is the Answer.