An Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds

A new Channel 4 documentary exploring the effects of intergenerational connections has left the nation feeling inspired and hopeful.

By Hannah Thornton · August 3, 2017

A new Channel 4 documentary exploring the effects of intergenerational connections has left the nation feeling inspired and hopeful. More importantly, it has revealed exciting new statistics for an innovative way to help reduce isolation and improve health in the lives of older people, sparking the beginning of a movement that could see hundreds of lives changed for the better.

The six week experiment sees some of the youngest members of society paired with some of the oldest to reveal how new found connections across generations can have transformative effects on health and wellbeing.

With over 8 decades between the volunteers in the experiment, older participant Hamish was slightly sceptical about the potential of the project. However he was pleasantly surprised to see that unlikely friendships quickly formed between the children and adults as they shared activities such as sports days, reading, walking and playing.

By the end of the 6 weeks incredible results were revealed. One older volunteer who had previously reported a worrying statistic in relation to depression and mental health dropped 8.5 points as a result of her engagement – 5.5 points below a statistic of concern.

Volunteers also showed a clear visual improvement in terms of their body language and happiness. And measurable statistics revealed that volunteers had become more mobile, active and engaged during their time with the children.

Whilst the experiment doesn’t claim to provide a cure for conditions such as arthritis and dementia, what it does prove is that some of the other conditions experienced as a result of ageing can be significantly improved by getting different generations together. Where some had previously felt no happiness in their life, they now felt “hopeful for the future” and a positive about a life which had regained quality and purpose. Who knew that a simple game of sleeping lions could be the answer!

And the positives don’t just stop with the older generation. Each of the children developed skills such as kindness, sharing, compassion, knowledge and an awareness of the world around them. And they also experienced the many benefits associated with bringing joy and energy (and the odd sticky hand) into the lives of other people.

If you, or anyone you know, needs reminding about the astonishing power of the human race then this is definitely one to watch, but get your tissues at the ready – you’ve been warned!

Catch up on An Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds on All 4.

Hannah Thornton, Communications Co-ordinator