Children and seniors can learn a lot from one another. Children connect seniors to the future, remind them of the simple joys of youth, and love without judgment. Seniors offer children wisdom, gentle encouragement, and an understanding of how we are all rooted in the past. Yet bridging generational gaps can prove difficult. Music allows people of all ages to connect, even without speaking. Last January, Arbor Terrace at Crabapple began connecting children and seniors through the Giving Tree Intergenerational Preschool Program.
Giving Tree: Connecting Children and Seniors
Every Wednesday and Friday morning, Arbor Terrace at Crabapple fills with sounds of tambourines, bells, and singing. The Giving Tree Intergenerational Preschool Program, the brainchild of the George Center for Music Therapy, uses music to bring seniors and kids together at our community twice each week.
At first, both sides are a bit reluctant. Seniors may feel self-conscious dancing or talking to children they don’t know. Children may feel uncomfortable around seniors, especially if they have disabilities. But over time, the tension melts away and both age groups become absorbed in the music. That’s exactly the point: Giving Tree aims to break down communication barriers, dispel stereotypes, and help connect people who might otherwise never come into contact with each other.
By the end of each session, children and seniors alike are usually dancing around the room, talking about their lives, and uproariously laughing. Music activates their brains and emotions in a way nothing else does.
Seniors who might not have grandchildren or whose grandchildren live far away get to be surrogate grandparents twice a week. In return, children get to add a loving adult to their lives. And everyone loves it. Kids often beg not to leave, and seniors look forward to the visits all week.
At Arbor, we believe that age need not be a barrier to connection, to learning new skills, or to feeling young. The Giving Tree connects our seniors to the outside world and to a younger generation. It’s just one of many ways that we give seniors a meaningful and happy retirement.
The Powerful Benefits of Music
Most people have experienced the emotional resonance of music. Consider how a song from your past makes you feel, or how the right piece can perfectly capture the emotions that words can’t touch. Music activates numerous parts of the brain.
Improve a bad mood and reduce stress.
Encourage people to keep moving.
Help music lovers excel in other fields, such as math and science.
Music is especially beneficial to seniors. That’s why we incorporate music into much of what we do at Arbor. These are just a few of the things music can do:
Perhaps most importantly of all, music is fun! We’re proud to partner with Giving Tree to give children and seniors a chance to connect across generations. We believe these connections may trigger powerful reverberations in seniors and children for many years to come. To learn more about our many programs, stop by or give us a call!