Effects of an intergenerational activity on nursing home residents: A children serving elders model

Margarita M Posada, Fordham University


The primary goal was to examine the effects that an experimental treatment, interactions with children in an intergenerational program, had on the prevalence of depression and positive behaviors among nursing home residents. Twenty cognitively mixed residents and 13 children participated in the study. Also examined were the effects of the activity on the positive behaviors of the children both in the classroom, at home, and during the activity. The intergenerational activity ran for nine weeks approximately every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for 10 minutes each day, for a total of 19 sessions. Results demonstrate that the intergenerational activity did not influence depression among the nursing home residents. Despite involvement in the intergenerational activity, depression scores increased between both the cognitively intact and cognitively impaired nursing home residents who were in the intervention and comparison groups. However, a trend was evident across time among the cognitively impaired resident's depression scores. Specifically, depression increased steadily within the cognitively impaired older adults who did not interact with the children. In contrast, depression scores of the cognitively intact and cognitively impaired residents in the intervention groups cycled across the course of the intergenerational activity. Analysis of the direct video-recorded observations of all the child and elderly interactions revealed that the number of positive behaviors displayed among the cognitively intact residents and children increased during the first few sessions, followed by a slight decrease and plateau of behaviors among these participants. With regard to child behavior at home in the classroom, these variables did not result in being significantly related. However, the average score of positive behaviors increased while the average score of negative behaviors decreased slightly across the three time points. The results of this study have practical implications for the development and design of intergenerational programs. Of particular interest to professionals is that the residents were all responsive in some way throughout the intergenerational activity. Considering the challenge in designing programs for residents with varying physical and cognitive needs, it is encouraging to know that positive interactions can be fostered when bringing together these two age groups for an ongoing musical activity.

Subject Area

Developmental psychology|Gerontology|Recreation

Recommended Citation

Posada, Margarita M, "Effects of an intergenerational activity on nursing home residents: A children serving elders model" (2006). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3223917.