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Spotlight: Intergenerational fun at Hillsborough Heights

A resthome in central Auckland is changing the lives of seniors and students alike. Hillsborough Heights Retirement Village in Mt Roskill is bringing seniors and students together as part of an intergenerational friendship program. The resthome hosts activities that match up young people, ranging from 3 years old to secondary school students, with residents at Hillsborough Heights. The activities include play dates with Roskill South Kindergarten and technology tutorials from the secondary students at Lynfield College.

Resident Shirley Hardwick, 82, said her grandchildren did not visit her often but through these activities she had made “so many little friends”. Hardwick visits Roskill South Kindergarten once a week to read to students. “The children greet me with lots of cuddles – so many of these children are from other countries and their grandparents are overseas, so I think they like spending time with oldies like me,” Hardwick said.

Roskill South Kindergarten students also visited Hillsborough Heights once a month for a play date with the residents. Hardwick said the residents’ favourite thing about the children was how spontaneous they were. “When the children visit, the residents’ faces just light up – the adrenaline kicks in and everyone starts laughing, singing and dancing.” The activities were also beneficial for the children, Hardwick said. “The youngsters learn how to interact with people with disabilities – many of us have trouble seeing or hearing,” she said.

Resident Mike Allsop, 82, who attended the Lynfield College technology tutorial last month, said he was “blown away” at how smart the students were.”I have been into Vodafone for a tutorial on how to use my smartphone and tablet so many times but learnt nothing – after one lesson with these children I could operate both,” Allsop said. The children were patient and polite, Allsop said.

Mike Allsop, Yvonne Knowles and Gordon Fordyce take part in the intergenerational program at Hillsborough Heights Retirement Village in Mt Roskill.

Hillsborough Heights activities coordinator Lisa Knightly said many residents were isolated from friends and family and these activities were their only chance to interact with other age groups. Age Concern New Zealand, a charitable organisation dedicated solely to people over 65, said one in 10 elderly people felt lonely all or most of the time. There was a whole science behind why Hillsborough Heights did this, Knightly said.

Research conducted in Canada showed social isolation and loneliness caused real health problems for the elderly population and intergenerational friendships improved their wellbeing, she said. “These friendships can combat loneliness, helplessness and boredom. They can also improve memory and have positive effects for dementia sufferers.” Connections between elders and youth was no longer always a natural occurrence in today’s world, Knightly said.

“Globalisation and migration means more older people are being separated from their children, making it increasingly important for generations to reach out and make an effort to understand each other,” she said.

Take a look at Hillsborough Heights listing here on Eldernet.

About Eve Williams

Eve Williams
Eve Williams is the Production and Social Media Administrator for Eldernet. She is currently studying towards her Masters at the University of Canterbury. She has a passion for learning new things.

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