How the Elderly Respond to Children

by | Dec 7, 2021

The festive season is a time for unity, good will to all men and of course, children! The simple pleasure of seeing children’s eyes light up with joy at the magic of Christmas is priceless.

Children have an acute impact on the elderly, not just at this time of year though.

It’s estimated that around 43% of the elderly experience isolation and depression, and this often has a knock-on effect on their mental and physical decline.

Children, on the other hand, are full of joy and wonder.  When children have the opportunity to interact with the elderly, the outcome can be significant.

It seems that there is a more closely aligned sense of time between the elderly and children as opposed to adults and the elderly.  What we mean by this is that they seem to relate more to what engages children than adults.

Play is an important part of a child’s development into adulthood, and as such, they’re encouraged to play games.  Simple game playing activities which involve the elderly can have a very positive impact.  For example, engaging in a jigsaw together could help children with learning to solve puzzles, but it will also help the elderly by giving them a renewed sense of self-worth by engaging in the activity itself and by assisting the child to learn new skills.  Any physical activity that the elderly engage in has huge benefits to them.

There is a sense of innocence around children, which is engaging and heart-warming in itself.  Children bring light and life to their surroundings, so it stands to reason that having kids around will lift the spirits of any elderly person – isolated or not!

It’s been well documented that people suffering with dementia can benefit from listening to music – particularly music from their childhood or early adulthood.  Familiar songs are often remembered.  At Sydenham House, we see many of our residents mood and engagement improve dramatically when we have music afternoons.

To this end, we’re pleased to announce that we are organising an outside performance and carol service, where our local children will be participating – singing age old carols and bringing Christmas cheer.

Simple songs that the majority of our residents know, will undoubtedly bring back happy memories for them, lift their spirits and give them some respite from their loneliness.

Some of the benefits of music therapy for the elderly include:

  1. Stimulation of parts of the brain bringing huge benefits, particularly in patients with dementia
  2. Music can help improve the processing speed and memory of the brain
  3. Participation in music therapy has a positive effect in mental, physical and social functioning in older adults
  4. Music can influence the elderly’s perceptions about the quality of their lives
  5. Music lowers heart rate and hormonal stress
  6. Music lowers anxiety

So, with these factors taken into consideration, what better way to try to improve the quality of life for older adults but to marry the joyous presence of children with music therapy?

It’s win-win situation really.  Children get to learn from the elderly – stories from their past, engagement with learning through play and develop a sense of empathy, while the elderly benefit from an improved sense of quality to their lives, improved brain function, renewed sense of self- worth, improved mood and social interaction.

The last 18 months of lock-down regulations has seen extremely tight restrictions in care homes for their staff, residents and relatives.  An outside, festive carol service performed by local children we believe, will be the best antidote to a difficult and traumatic pandemic lockdown.

We are Sydenham House –  a residential home based in the beautiful village of Blakeney, Gloucestershire.  For more information, please check out our website or give us a call on 01594 517 015.