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Ageless education: Researchers create guide for intergenerational classrooms at nursing homes
Date:7/25/2012

"We really see this as a great opportunity for helping people see that elders are still valuable individuals in our society," said Gfeller, who is also the mother of a 4-year-old. "As a gerontologist, I was very excited about this program and its potential for elders. As a parent, I was very intrigued by the program and the opportunities that it brings for children."

In Coffeyville, the program involves a classroom placed in the heart of the nursing home. Students are greeted by residents from the start of the day as they walk through the nursing home into their classroom. During the school day, residents come into the classroom for reading time, crafts, holiday celebrations and other activities. The children also have activities in the nursing home and their playground is on nursing home grounds.

"Residents become volunteer teachers in the classroom," Gfeller said. "Every day, these children are getting one-on-one time with an elder who is helping them work on writing and reading."

Through a three-year qualitative and quantitative study, Gfeller found numerous benefits and outcomes of an intergenerational classroom. Quantitative results showed that nursing home residents were able to uphold basic skills while maintaining and sometimes improving their health status. Qualitative data showed that nursing home residents experienced mood enhancements and felt that had a sense of value and purpose. They spoke of feeling needed, which pushed them to work to recover more quickly from illness.

Gfeller plans follow-up studies that examine the benefits that children receive from such an intergenerational programs.

"With our society the way it is today, many children don't have access to a grandparent," Gfeller said. "This is an opportunity to provide both of these generations the opportunity to come together and share their knowledge and their time in a way that these kids and elders may not get otherwise."

The guidebook o
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Contact: Stephanie Gfeller
sgfeller@k-state.edu
785-532-5945
Kansas State University
Source:Eurekalert

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