Intergenerational Programs May Be Especially Engaging for Aged Care Residents With Cognitive Impairment: Findings From the Avondale Intergenerational Design Challenge

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Abstract

Intergenerational programs are an authentic way to engage elders in meaningful activity and report benefits to both elders and youth. The Avondale Intergenerational Design Challenge (AVID) randomly assigned small teams of technology students aged 13 to 15 years (total N = 59) to 1 of 24 aged care residents with a range of cognitive impairment. Students met with the resident 4 times over 15 weeks and ultimately crafted a personalized item for them. Students showed no change in self-reported attitudes to elders, empathy, or self-esteem post-AVID or at 3-month follow-up, compared to a 3-month within-subject control period pre-AVID. Compared to usual lifestyle activities, residents showed significant improvements in self-reported positive affect and negative affect after student visits and were observed to be significantly more engaged during visits, especially residents with greater cognitive impairment. The personal and guided nature of intergenerational programs may be especially effective in engaging elders with cognitive impairment in meaningful activity.

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