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Old meets young at new intergenerational living centre in Regina

Click to play video: 'Intergenerational living care home opens its doors'
Intergenerational living care home opens its doors
Intergenerational living care home opens its doors – Feb 28, 2017

The unique concept of intergenerational living is gaining traction in areas of the world and now has a foothold in Regina.

The Orange Tree Village, located in Harbour Landing, opened in December and provides spaces for not only seniors, but families, students, and professionals with a learning centre for children as well.

The complex was built around the theme of intergenerational living – meaning people of different generations live alongside each other with the hopes of building relationships.

Upon entering the supportive living section, it’s easy to see how the concept works.

Helen Seigel, who moved to Orange Tree’s supportive living area less than a month ago, can be found playing a board game with five-year-old Lucas Ingham and six-year-old Colton Ahlquist.

The two boys spend their day at the learning centre, located on a floor above the supportive living section, but visit with the seniors as part of their daycare schedule.

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“It’s a nice feeling. You almost feel like they’re your own grandchildren,” Siegel said.

The concept of intergenerational living has become more popular in past years.

In Japan, joint nursery schools and senior homes are not uncommon. In the Netherlands, a retirement home garnered international attention for opening its doors to college students in exchange for volunteer hours.

Client care specialist, Bonny Daku, was inspired by projects in the Netherlands and used her background in healthcare to help bring the intergenerational concept to Saskatchewan.

“It helps them mentally. It helps them psychologically, like depression, all of those things because it alleviates one of the worst enemies of a lot of seniors: loneliness,” Daku said.

“Especially when family isn’t close location-wise, it’s really nice to see children running around. It’s nice to have someone to talk to, encourage them to build relationships with each other,” intergenerational program lead Alex Rhodes added.

Studies have also shown intergenerational interaction can delay mental decline, lower blood pressure and reduce risk of disease in seniors.

Daku believes the interactions are also beneficial for the young kids in daycare.

“It’s teaching them that they can have those conversations and that they can learn. This is normal and it’s not something to be afraid of, it’s everyday life,” she said.

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It’s not just the youngest and oldest generations in the building; Orange Tree opened four university student suites at reduced rent for students willing to donate 30 hours of volunteering in the building every month.

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