The ABC’s new documentary looks at the benefits of intergenerational relationships and aims to improve the mood and mobility of 11 Sydney retirement home residents by getting them to interact with pre-schoolers.
Billed as an Australian-first experiment the documentary hopes to get older folk to re-engage with the world they’ve become isolated from, to reignite their sense of play and fun, from pretending to sip tea from an empty cup to moving their bodies by simply taking a walk in the garden.
The idea which originated in the US and a similar documentary ran in the UK two years ago works as you see eyes light up and barriers come down.
There’s Eric being nudged along by an insistent young Aidan as they go to collect leaves from the garden and then he’s being playfully bullied into handing over his chips to his young dining companions.
The programme is said to be a bit manipulative but claims that if it makes people think twice about the kind of life you may be sending parents and grandparents off to, then that’s a good thing.
The statistics are however, shocking with 40% of the residents saying they receive no visitors and 50% say they’re depressed.
The raw honesty of some of the residents is upsetting as they describe how families are ‘too busy’ to visit and they talk about their loss of confidence, their home and pets.
But there is a lighter side, the infectious enthusiasm that pre-schoolers bring to the documentary and the positive influence they have on the well-being of the residents.