Watch What Happens When You Put a Preschool in a Nursing Home
At The Mount, 4-year-olds and 90-year-olds are happily side by side
"Giggles and the pitter patter of little feet echo through the halls of Providence Mount St. Vincent in Seattle — not exactly the sounds you’d expect to hear in a living-care community for older adults," writes Tiffany Jansen in The Atlantic. And yet that's exactly what happens every weekday at "The Mount," as the facility is affectionately known by residents and locals.
For the past 25 years, The Mount has been not only a full-time care facility for 400 older adults, but also home to a preschool for more than 100 children. The school's 400-student wait list speaks to its popularity and reputation.
Doing Things Side by Side
The program — which includes activities children and residents can do side-by-side — counterbalances the loneliness and boredom that so often characterizes life in a nursing facility, Jansen reports. Numerous studies, her story goes on to say, link social interaction with decreased loneliness, delayed mental decline, lower blood pressure, and reduced risk of disease and death in elders.
Less research has been done on the impact that programs like The Mount's have on children, but a few things are clear. "Kids who have early contact with older people are less likely to view them as incompetent — and simply exposing children to positive depictions of elders makes them less likely to exhibit ageism," Jansen writes.
The kids are also prone, she reports, to feel more comfortable around those with disabilities and impairments of all kinds than their peers who lack similar experiences.
Living in the Present
Briggs told ABC News she noticed something amazing happening at The Mount when school was in session: "a complete transformation in the presence of the children. Moments before the kids came in, sometimes the people seemed half-alive, sometimes asleep," she said. "It was a depressing scene. As soon as the kids walked in for art or music or making sandwiches for the homeless or whatever the project that day was, the residents came alive."
What's day-to-day life like at The Mount, for nonagenarians and 4-year-olds alike? Watch this clip from Present Perfect to find out: