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Open Access Research article

Interactive programs with preschool children bring smiles and conversation to older adults: time-sampling study

Kumiko Morita1* and Minako Kobayashi2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Health Education, Graduate School of Health Care Sciences, Tokyo Medical and Dental University, 1-5-45 Yushima, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 1138519, Japan

2 Faculty of Nursing, Kameda College of Health Sciences, 462 Yokosuka, Kamogawa, Chiba 2960001, Japan

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BMC Geriatrics 2013, 13:111  doi:10.1186/1471-2318-13-111

Published: 18 October 2013

Abstract

Background

Keeping older adults healthy and active is an emerging challenge of an aging society. Despite the importance of personal relationships to their health and well-being, changes in family structure have resulted in a lower frequency of intergenerational interactions. Limited studies have been conducted to compare different interaction style of intergenerational interaction. The present study aimed to compare the changes in visual attention, facial expression, engagement/behaviour, and intergenerational conversation in older adults brought about by a performance-based intergenerational (IG) program and a social-oriented IG program to determine a desirable interaction style for older adults.

Methods

The subjects of this study were 25 older adults who participated in intergenerational programs with preschool children aged 5 to 6 years at an adult day care centre in Tokyo. We used time sampling to perform a structured observation study. The 25 older participants of intergenerational programs were divided into two groups based on their interaction style: performance-based IG program (children sing songs and dance) and social-oriented IG program (older adults and children play games together). Based on the 5-minute video observation, we compared changes in visual attention, facial expression, engagement/behaviour, and intergenerational conversation between the performance-based and social-oriented IG programs.

Results

Constructive behaviour and intergenerational conversation were significantly higher in the social-oriented IG programming group than the performance-based IG programming group (p<0.001). No significant differences were observed in frequency of smiles, however, when weighted smiling rate was used, smiles were significantly more frequently observed in the social-oriented IG programming group than the performance-based IG programming (p<0.05). The visual attention occurred between the generations was significantly higher in the performance-based IG programming group than the social-oriented IG programming group (p<0.05).

Conclusions

Intergenerational programs with preschool children brought smiles and conversation to older adults. The social-oriented IG program allowed older adults to play more roles than the performance-based IG program. The intergenerational programs provide opportunities to fulfil basic human needs and reintegrate older adults into society. Further development of such beneficial programs is warranted.

Trial registration

UMIN-CTR clinical Trial: UMIN000010439

Keywords:
Intergenerational programs; Older adults; Smiles; Conversation; Engagement/behaviour; Time sampling