Many around the world find Americans’ general treatment of the elderly appalling. Older Americans often live completely independently, separated from their children and grandchildren. When they are then no longer able to care for themselves, they are often put into nursing homes where they are usually forgotten.
A new video, however, proposes a genius idea to interweave the lives of older generations with younger generations by building a preschool inside a nursing home. Society benefits from this move by exposing younger generations to the wisdom of older generations while at the same time promoting interaction with seniors in nursing homes.
Jared Diamond explains the differences between older people’s place in traditional versus new societies in his book “The World Until Yesterday.” In our modern day society, when Americans reach the ages of 50 or 60, they enter retirement and leave the workforce. At that point they no longer actively contribute to the production of resources for society and end up neglected.
In traditional oral societies, the elderly are often respected as sources of information and wisdom for younger generations. They also serve an important role in the community as caregivers for young children while parents are out working to support their livelihoods.
The video begins with the quote: “A person is a person because of people.” With a preschool in a nursing home, the elderly will be able to serve as caregivers and teachers for young children while their parents are away.
We can take lessons away from our understanding of how traditional societies functioned and apply them to today. A nursing home preschool would enhance the roles elderly people play in our community while allowing them to see and interact with kids and families.