Intergenerational Relationships

12/18/2014
Location : Orange County Hospice
Reflections Residentandchild ENRICHED

By Christine Hernandez, LCSW, Silverado Hospice

The reciprocal benefits that come from a multigenerational relationship have been a part of Silverado’s philosophy since the idea behind the company was first conceived. Children bloom when they have nurturing, meaningful relationships and older adults thrive when they experience purposeful engagement and a connection with a child.

Utilizing the successful “Petals for Patients” program, the Orange County Hospice Team was able to create a new way to realize this philosophy through the first Hospice Intergenerational Project. Silverado Hospice collaborated with Mission Montessori, a local private school that cares for and educates children from infancy through kindergarten, to make floral arrangements for senior hospice patients.

The children created the arrangements with an understanding that they were making the bouquets for “people who are ill.” The youngsters could be seen admiring the blooms, selecting their favorite shapes and colors and sharing about their own loved ones. One child expressed, “My grandma’s sick. I love her so much.” Another stated, “My grandma is so nice to me. She smiles a lot.” The children filled more than 25 vases with beautifully arranged flowers. 

Despite most of the flowers being delivered to the patients by the Silverado Hospice team, one toddler was able to deliver her arrangement to a new friend in person. Although the 2-year-old was initially timid to be visiting a senior care community, the encouragement to give the flowers she had just arranged eased her shyness into a positive connection. Though limited in conversation, the act of holding hands, exchanging smiles and the simplicity in sharing a lollipop made for a meaningful visit for each of them.

The collaboration with Mission Montessori, was a perfect example of how an intergenerational relationship provides an opportunity to show kindness to one another. Both the child and patient came away feeling a sense of purpose and an understanding of their roles in brightening up each other’s day. The overwhelming sense of care and compassion experienced was uplifting for the child, patient and everyone who witnessed the acts of thoughtfulness the project brought about.

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