The latest version of Old People's Home for 4 Year Olds is being filmed close to home, based at the Larkhills Retirement Village in Clifton and has hit our screens to great reviews. We watched Monday's episode under a warm glow as it portrayed all that is best when the young and old come together; humour, joy, memories and connection. Love just oozes out of the screen.
The programme is a social experiment on what effect children have on the elderly - can it delay age related diseases and add to a sense of purpose and flourishing in old age? We will have to wait for the results - but the signs look promising. The programme is a further step in what we all know needs to happen in our nation - people need to come together and find hope and happiness in each other - yes, we all have something to bring to the party of life.
As the programme aired this week Twitter was going mad at hashtag #oldpeopleshome4yo. @claireWhite55 tweeted 'A Dunkirk veteran who dances alone, little Scarlett who’s mummy died, badlass Lavina and Phoenix who ‘literally used all the stickers’ This programme is GOLD and I’m a mess!'
@HonorCollins said '#OldPeoplesHome4YO has me crying some serious tears seeing the elderly people so happy with the 4 yr olds is so heartwarming.'
There's something quite beautiful in a series that is pulling at the heart strings of the nation - it gives us a glimpse of what's possible which breeds a sense of hope. For many however the reality is different. Loneliness is at epidemic levels and not just among the old, a recent survey suggests that many of our young people are crippled by it too. Somewhere along the line our sense of community has been eroded and we're all poorer for it.
iNews reported that 'About 200,000 older people have not had a conversation with a friend or relative in more than a month, and three-quarters of GPs said they see up to five people every day suffering from loneliness.' Such is the depth of the problem that the government is about to introduce Social Prescriptions through our GPs.
'GPs will be able to refer people to social activities under new plans to tackle loneliness,' wrote iNews, 'Theresa May has announced. Instead of prescribing pills, doctors will be encouraged to use “social prescribing” to refer lonely people for activities including dancing, cookery classes, walking clubs and art groups.
The article continued. 'Mrs May praised the late Labour MP Jo Cox, who had campaigned to end loneliness before her death. The Prime Minister said: “Jo Cox was absolutely right to highlight the critical importance of this growing social injustice which sits alongside childhood obesity and mental well-being as one of the greatest public health challenges of our time. “I was pleased to be able to support the Loneliness Commission set up in Jo’s name and I am determined to do everything possible to take forward its recommendations.”' (Read more at: https://inews.co.uk/news/health/gps-england-loneliness-theresa-may-nhs/)
Of course the answer doesn't just lie at the Doctor's Surgery - it rests with each one of us. We all have the capacity to reach out, to offer some time - to give a listening ear. Each home, every church, club, activity group has something vital to offer - a sense of togetherness - the answer to our loneliness lies in the grasp of each of us. Let's not abdiacte what Old People's Home for 4 Year Olds appears to advicate that togetherness is the very essence of what it means to be human.