Adopt a grandparent
95 year-old Eric James has no family and never had children of his own, but a hug from a five-year-old stranger reduced him to tears.
It was a special moment that had all the adults in the room reaching for the tissue box.
Eric, a resident at Bupa Aged Care Edithvale, lives with dementia. He has no family around to visit him and his days can be lonely.
So when children from the local kindergarten came to visit the home – it meant so much.
Tracey Crichton, from Bupa Aged Care Edithvale says the normally quiet and reserved 95-year-old came out of his shell.
While Eric never had children of his own, he was a natural with the four and five year-olds.
“His face said it all. He was cuddling this little boy, he was smiling and he had tears running down his face at the same time,” says Tracey.
“It was like he could not believe a little boy just wanted to give him a cuddle and that made his day,” she says.
This moving moment was one of many experienced by residents when the youngsters visited.
“It was just so special to watch,” says Tracey.
Bupa Aged Care Edithvale was inspired by successful programs like the partnership with Playgroup Victoria and Bupa Bellarine which has seen astounding results in residents who are living with dementia.
Regional Director Craig Rutherford says the 15 Bupa Aged Care homes in his area (Victoria’s East and South Australia) are establishing relationships with playgroups, kindergartens or preschools.
He says the results have been remarkable.
“We’re not quite sure why, but it’s something very core to the human condition,” says Craig. “Children evoke a sense of peace.”
“Residents who were not able to string sentences together suddenly can do that and they have clarity of thought and speech far greater than before the visit and it often lasts for days after.”
Craig says there has been a marked improvement in cognition, social behaviours and wellbeing when young children come to visit older residents.
“To be surrounded by young people who are just beginning their journey brings so much energy to residents,” he says. “Our residents just love to be around those who are full of life and vitality.”
“Even those who haven’t had children - the longing, desire and enjoyment of children and their company brings out a sense of fun and the love that they want to give,” says Craig.
Bupa Aged Care Edithvale now has an ongoing reciprocal relationship with the local kindergarten.
Tracey is working with the kindy to find a family to adopt Eric as a grandparent.
“For him to get that sort of enjoyment, I have to carry that on,” says Tracey.
“I think it would be really special if he could connect with just one child and the family could come and see him.”