Studies highlighting the benefits for both age groups of children and elderly people spending time together are being embraced by Fernhill House, which is inviting local youngsters to join them and meet a pair of Shetland ponies dressed in Santa outfits!   

The visit, on December 1, will be the latest in a series of activities to which the wider public is invited as part of the home’s policy to ensure as vibrant a life as possible for everyone in the home.   

Previous events which have seen mutually beneficial interaction between those with many decades under their belt and their younger counterparts have included a family fun day in the summer, a visit from village school children to make pizzas in the home’s outdoor oven and an animal encounters day involving snakes, chinchillas and giant rabbits.   

Fernhill House manager Peta Mandleberg is a great fan of projects which see children and older people share space and activities, and cites examples of successful policies of combining crèches and nursing homes in the US and Singapore.   

Indeed, Fernhill House is about to purchase a revolutionary interactive sensory table which uses light and images to help people living with dementia.   This week an experiment carried out in Essex showed primary school children and octogenarians playing happily together with the new technology.   

Peta explained: “Studies have shown that shared experiences between the ages can help educate older people about technology, increase their energy levels and improve their health and happiness.     

“For children, benefits include improving reading ability, better behaviour, less substance use and truancy in later life. It also boosts self-esteem and young children are found to be far less discriminatory when it comes to forming friendships.”     

 *  Children in Essex join people with dementia to play with the innovative sensory light table.