A program that pairs University of Ottawa students with local long-term care residents with dementia shows it reduces ageist attitudes and improves the residents' overall quality of life.
The study, conducted by researchers at Perley Rideau Centre of Excellence in Frailty-Informed Care, is looking at the benefits of intergenerational meetings.
One of the lead researchers, Dr. Annie Robitaille, who is an assistant professor in the interdisciplinary school of health sciences at the uOttawa, says the program doesn't only benefit those with dementia, but the students as well.
"For the students, it's actually quite the rewarding experience for them," Dr. Robitaille says. "They form long-term friendships with the residents, and it's also a way for them to realize how much an impact they can have."
"The students and residents aren't the only ones who benefit from the program," explains Dr. Robitaille. "It's also great for their family members because it provides a sense of comfort knowing there is someone visiting their loved ones regularly."
University of Ottawa student volunteers have at least two meetings per week with the same resident, which the doctor says also helps to reduce their social isolation.
Dr. Robitaille says the volunteers offer "unique perspectives and valuable contributions that build knowledge on how to better care for older adults, something that must improve as we emerge from COVID and prepare to support a rapidly aging population."