Old People’s Home For 4 Year Olds is a UK-based reality show where a group of small children venture into a British aged care facility to spend time with the elderly residents.
It’s heartwarming seeing the little ones and the residents bond and play – learning more about the other and getting out of their comfort zones.
Though the social experiment only lasted for six weeks during the summer, the two groups were reunited for a Christmas special which highlighted the challenging times some aged care resident experience during the holidays.
David, a widower whose grandchildren are in their thirties, lost his wife three years ago. And says that the holidays are an especially difficult time without her.
Fortunately for David, this year he was reunited with Eva – a five year old who he bonded during the original series.
“I think I’m in love with her. She comes to tea. We have a little chat. There is usually cake. It’s just delightful.”
“I admire her. She’s beautiful. I have two daughters and they are marvellous, but she is marvellous too. On a smaller scale.”
“The thing about the children is that they just want you to be their friend.
“They don’t care about your age, about your disabilities, about the restrictions you think you have.
“And that is good for us. If we let our barriers drop and let them in, then we all feel better for it, don’t we?”
But it’s not just the resident’s who benefit from this special bond – the children gain a lot too.
“Eva made a very special connection with David. She was confident before, but I think she’s even more confident now,” says Eva’s mum.
“You can take her anywhere and she’ll bowl up to anyone and chat.”
Before meeting the children, Linda scored particularly high on the on the programme’s depression assessment.
“I hadn’t thought of myself as depressed. I think, like most people, I have up days and down days. Some days you just carry on with life, thinking: ‘Don’t be such a miserable old so-and-so.’ Other days, you think: ‘What is the point?’”
“I am actually one of the lucky ones, because I live in a retirement village with others around me. Lots of people don’t have that.”
But then the 80 year old met Amiya and the two bonded.
“I didn’t have children of my own. I married quite late and I think I didn’t have the maternal gene. My husband Bob was always the one who was good with children.”
“I supposed I agreed to take part because I thought it was the sort of thing I thought he would do.”
“I didn’t know I had it in me. I was just trying to keep up with [Amiya]. I didn’t want to let her down. Afterwards, I got teased relentlessly.”
A new Australian Red Cross survey has found that up to one in four – or 5.6 million Australians – feel lonely some or almost all of the time.
The Australian Minister for Aged Care said that he recently “knocked on the door of an older man whose wife had died and his children had grown up and moved away. He broke down in tears, as he told me I was the first person he’d spoken to in more than a week.”
Campaigns such as the Australian Red Cross’s ‘Season of Belonging’ are important and help ensure that people are not forgotten this Christmas.
“I encourage you all visit redcross.org.au/act to find out how you can reach out to people in your community who may be lonely,” says Minister Wyatt.
“I am also asking people to reach out — particularly to senior Australians — show you care and take time to share this festive season with relatives, neighbours and community members in need of company.”
“We all have a responsibility to care for our senior people — to show them that we cherish them and value them by being there as much as we can. We live in a country built on their hard work – surely we owe them that.”
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