Amazing things happen when we put preschools and nursing homes together

intergenerational-preschools-nursing-homes-Evan-BriggsThe Intergenerational Learning Center in Seattle is unlike any preschool or senior living facility that most Americans have seen, because the Center is both. It’s a daycare center for young children that is located inside a nursing home for elderly Americans.

That’s a win-win combination that allows the two generations to share part of their daily life together for mutual benefit. For the kids, it means enhanced emotional and intellectual development. For the seniors, it means more energy and joy injected into their routine social interactions. As the “sandwich” generation, working parents caring for both generations can embrace these new ways of intergenerational learning and living as well.

Although the trend is a still nascent one, it has already caught on at 500 senior communities, retirement homes, long-term care facilities, and other centers across America. To showcase the poignant moments made possible by the Intergenerational Learning Center, one filmmaker even created a documentary, Present Perfect. (See the trailer below.)

It’s a compelling idea that raises an important practical question: how can families bring the model to their own communities?

In response, officials at the federal, state, and local levels should collaborate with the private sector to formulate best practices, technical guides, and advocacy strategies. Details to address include potential Medicare and Medicaid policy changes and application of existing governmental incentives like housing tax credits. We need to figure out too how best to approach intergenerational learning in the context of ongoing efforts to make assisted living facilities more humane and livable and high-quality childcare more affordable for working parents.

In the meantime, check out the documentary trailer here and help spread the word. For more information, also see “The Preschool Inside a Nursing Home,” The Atlantic; “This preschool inside a retirement home makes perfect sense for both kids and seniors,” Upworthy; “This Preschool Inside A Nursing Home Proves True Friendship Knows No Age,” The Huffington Post; and “Building Better Nursing Homes,” The Atlantic.