Generation Cedar

The Old & Young Were Meant to Live Life Together

Mount St. Vincent, a nursing home in Seattle, Washington is experimenting with a new idea: sharing their day with a preschool. A filmmaker, Evan Briggs, captured on film the sweet interactions and obvious benefits to having young and old share life together.

This film ripped my heart open. Not because of the tenderness or beauty of it, but because we finally recognize the power, healing and growth for all humans when they interact together, in life, yet because of our unnatural social choices, our sacrifice of the sacred, our disdain for both the old and the young, we have to manufacture an environment that should be naturally-occurring in every community.

Something our culture didn’t figure into the practice of severely limiting children, is that children serve a crucial role in our lives, throughout our lives, and were given to us for reasons far beyond our social status.

Since a woman’s childbearing years last until around her mid-forties, nature tells us that families are supposed to be raising babies until around then. That’s right about the time a mother will likely become a grandmother. Those years literally overlap, when we let them, and I don’t think it was an accident that babies naturally occur in every stage of life.

Babies and toddlers were meant to be a constant, integral part of our lives because they bring life and vitality, and help us see as Jesus wanted us to see (“unless you become as a little children…”).

Beyond that, nursing homes have robbed the elderly from real homes where children and grandchildren should abound, where experiments like the above one don’t have to be fabricated. It’s God’s natural way of keeping our lives full of joy and wonder and importance.

Statistics mentioned in the film said:

“43% of older adults experience social isolation, which is closely correlated with loneliness and depression, as well as mental and physical decline.”

“The number of adults 65 years and older is expected to double within the next 25 years.”

What will happen to an ever-increasing aging population if they are removed from homes and the joy of life through the eyes of children?

And what will happen to children, and us, when we aren’t allowed to glean from the aged, honor them for their sacrifices, and care for them in their weakness, which makes us stronger and better?

We lose so much when we live for today, making choices that have detrimental effects on our tomorrows.

Life is precious, at every age. Let us celebrate every life!

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7 Responses

  1. As a person who is currently living this situation ( caring for my 80 year old mother with Alzheimer’s and dementia and still raising babies, pregnant with number 8 as I type) I can relate to what your saying. However in our situation the time is coming where my mother will have to be placed in the care of someone who is experienced with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Mother hates my children, is miserable and constantly threatening to harm herself and at times we fear she may harm us or the children. Sadly this is all part of her disease. To make a 5, 4, and 2 year old understand why the once loving and doting grandmother now despises them is impossible. Even our 17,16, and 15 year olds have a hard time grasping the concept as does our 11 year old. I have avoided this as long as I can. I do not regret having my other here with us the last 7 years. I miss the old her and can’t really relate to the lady I see now. In a way the fact that she is so much different from the mother who raised me, has made it easier for me to cope with her decline. I would suggest to anyone who can, to please spend as much time with your loved ones as possible. Care for your parents or grandparents if given the opportunity to. And most importantly no matter what or where they are ( your Home or a nursing home) love on them and let them know they aren’t forgotten and they are very much valued and loved. God bless you Kelly and your family!

    1. Maudie,

      I can’t imagine how hard this has been for you. What a testimony that you have kept her as long as you can. Of course, I don’t mean to insinuate by this post that there is never a time for a nursing home or professional care. But as you have demonstrated, when a family can, I think that’s the way God intended it. Blessing to you as you and your children walk this hard road.

  2. I work from home, and much of my work centers on handling legal issues for older adults. I see how isolated many of them are, and it truly is heartbreaking. I can say that my healthiest, happiest clients are the ones who have regular time either with grandchildren or, for those in nursing homes, with children in general. The idea of having a preschool in a nursing home makes me so happy! I’d love to see more of that kind of thing happening.

  3. This video touched my heart this week. Thanks for commenting on it, Kelly. I so wished the elderly in the video were with their own families and young ones and the young ones were at home with their families, along with the elderly. We are missing out on so much and it hurts. However there are obstacles for so many of us wanting to live that dream of perfect families and arrangements. I took care of my mother in our home for a short period of time, and like Maudie’s situation above, my mother had Alzheimer’s. It became impossible to care for her as I would have liked. Loved your comments, Kelly. Keep on helping the families.

  4. There is an assisted living center near me that actually owns a daycare also (so there are capable adults working as well) so the two groups are actually together a lot, which I thought always seemed sweet for the elderly. The website states they opened the daycare to bridge the gap between generations and it has been in business for years. Didn’t know it was that unique. Now I wonder how many like it there are?

  5. This is done in China. One of our adopted children spent her first year in a home like this. We adopted 6, and only one was in a home like this that I know of, so it may not be very widespread. It would be interesting to know what other countries had these type “homes”. IMHO, very few nursing homes were needed until so many women began working outside the home, and those homes were only for severe health cases. I remember my grandparents and their siblings taking care of my great grandmother, each child would take a few months at a time. I also remember women of the church would go and “sit” with elderly people to help them stay in their own homes. I hope many other’s learn from this “experiment.”

  6. This was encouraging to me to read tonight. In two days we’re going to be moving into a house that has an in-law suite for my parents. I know it is the right thing to do, but the thought still scares me sometimes – What are we doing?!
    Already though my parents and children are making plans for how they will spend time together doing their favourite activities. I did not get to grow up near my grandparents, and I’m so happy to be able to provide this experience for my children.

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