Chickens and Four-Year Olds — What Could They Have in Common?

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I am so inspired by the way many senior communities are thinking outside the box to enrich the lives of seniors. The latest two that touched my heart are about chickens and four-year-olds. People don’t have to be alone to feel lonely and many in assisted living fight depression because they feel alone. These two programs are aimed at connecting them with others and giving them a sense of purpose in their lives. It’s apparent that both programs are working.

Hen Project

The Hen Project was started in 2011 in an England nursing home. Residents take care of all the chickens’ needs from feeding them to cleaning their cages and gathering eggs. What has happened is remarkable. This video on Facebook says many of the residents have improved function and some have been able to quit taking medications for depression.

One elderly man on the video said he thought it was the most ridiculous idea possible but was intrigued enough to get involved. He loves it! These seniors even bring their hens in and paint with them. They let them walk through the paint and walk across paper.

The chickens seemed to bring them together. They work together gathering eggs and feeding the hens. Now many of them take their hens on the road and share them with school children and other civic groups. I’m a chicken lover myself and have four hens and a rooster. They are such interesting creatures! My hens sing to me all the time.

4-Year-Old Retirement Home Residents

The other program was experimental. This retirement home brought in 10 4-year-olds to live in the home along with the seniors for six weeks. Before the youngsters came, the elders were tested for mood, memory and mobility. Many were depressed and were at risk of falling due to lack of exercise.

The experts designed activities that the seniors and children could do together. The video is so precious and it is apparent that both the children and the elders are enjoying their time together. Within those few weeks, nearly all the elders had elevated moods, their memories improved and so did their mobility. Do you remember keeping up with a four-year-old? It’s got to get you in better shape!

I also saw an article on having elder care and childcare located in the same place so both can spend time together. I think this is the best idea ever! I know how my parents come alive when one of their great-grandchildren come for a visit. And they talk about everything those kids did for days on end.

Years ago it was common for elders to live with their younger family members and it often included children. There’s nothing like spending time with a child to make you feel better about life. When I snuggle up with one of my grands, the world just seems like a better place. I can’t feel down when they are around. I don’t have time for a pity party! Their love and attention is the best cure for anything!

You don’t have to wait until a program comes along for your senior. Just do what you can to bring children and animals into their lives, even if it’s just a visit or two during the month. Many communities, including my own small town, now allow residents to keep a few chickens. They truly are lovely creatures and of course the eggs are better than any you can buy in the store.

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