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– New data suggests that both elderly people and young children can benefit from getting together to do activities –

Living in a multi-generational household is less common than it used to be so it is less likely that older and younger generations spend much time together. With the busy lives of most families, even seeing grandparents might be a challenge and so children and grandparents miss out on that all important bonding time. Families are also more dispersed so different generations might not live near each other, but the importance of inter-generational contact remains.

The Live-in Care Hub is a not-for-profit organisation committed to raising the quality of elderly care in the UK and they are keen advocates of a better quality of life for older people. They have, therefore, been highlighting the benefits of inter-generational contact and joint activities.

The Benefits Of Older And Younger Generations Spending Time Together

There are many benefits for different generations spending time together including, but not limited to:

  • Both age groups can learn new skills from each other
  • Both age groups can learn about relevant aspects of their different generations
  • Older people have a sense of purpose and children feel a sense of doing something for others
  • Children gain an understanding of the elderly and growing older
  • Children may lose any fear of the elderly they have
  • The older adults can avoid loneliness
  • Depression and other mental health issues may be alleviated in older adults
  • Older adults may see improvements in physical health
  • Older adults with dementia may see some symptoms reduce
  • Older adults provide a patient and understanding ear to children who have plenty to share

Activities That Benefit Both Generations

There are some really enjoyable activities than can benefit both parties and encourage great relationships to develop:

  • Gardening
  • Reading to each other
  • Learning a new hobby
  • Sharing stories (real or make believe)
  • Singing and dancing
  • Preparing and cooking a meal
  • Art and sketching

Dominique Kent, Joint Founder of the Live-In Care Hub, is a passionate advocate for better elderly care in the UK. “We know from our research that one-to-one care at home with a live-in carer results in better health and wellbeing for the vast majority of elderly people. Live-in care also enables better contact with all generations of a family in a familiar home environment where routines and meal times can easily be altered to accommodate young children.

With live-in care there are no restrictions imposed to prevent people enjoying life as fully as possible. So it is important that older people understand that care in their own home is a viable option.”

The Live-In Care Hub carry out independent research and their website offers practical tips, advice and support to those seeking elderly care for themselves or for a relative. Find out more at www.liveincarehub.co.uk.

Stem cells made from skin have become “grandparents” after generations of life were created in experiments by scientists in Japan.

The cells were used to create eggs, which were fertilized to produce baby mice. These later had their own babies.

If the technique could be adapted for people, it could help infertile couples have children and even allow women to overcome the menopause.

But experts say many scientific and ethical hurdles must be overcome.

Stem cells are able to become any other type of cell in the body from blood to bone, nerves to skin.

Last year the team at Kyoto University managed to make viable sperm from stem cells. Now they have performed a similar feat with eggs.

They used stem cells from two sources: those collected from an embryo and skin-like cells which were reprogrammed into becoming stem cells.

The first step, reported in the journal Science, was to turn the stem cells into early versions of eggs.

A “reconstituted ovary” was then built by surrounding the early eggs with other types of supporting cells which are normally found in an ovary. This was transplanted into female mice.

Surrounding the eggs in this environment helped them to mature.

IVF techniques were used to collect the eggs, fertilize them with sperm from a male mouse and implant the fertilized egg into a surrogate mother.

Dr. Katsuhiko Hayashi, from Kyoto University, said: “They develop to be healthy and fertile offspring.”

Those babies then had babies of their own, whose “grandmother” was a cell in a laboratory dish.

The ultimate aim of the research is to help infertile couples have children. If the same methods could be used in people then cells in skin could be turned into an egg. Any resulting child would be genetically related to the mother.

However, Dr. Katsuhiko Hayashi said that was still a distant prospect: “I must say that it is impossible to adapt immediately this system to human stem cells, due to a number of not only scientific reasons, but also ethical reasons.”

He said that the level of understanding of human egg development was still too limited. There would also be questions about the long-term consequences on the health of any resulting child.

Prof. Robert Norman, from the University of Adelaide, said: “For many infertile couples, finding they have no sperm or eggs is a devastating blow.

“This paper offers light to those who want a child, who is genetically related to them, by using personalized stem cells to create eggs that can produce an offspring that appears to be healthy.

“It also offers the potential for women to have their own children well past menopause raising even more ethical issues.

“Application to humans is still a long way off, but for the first time the goal appears to be in sight.”