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Nursing home 'hires' toddlers to spread smiles among its elderly residents: 'They're so cute'

The elderly wait for these little ones to come in and interact with them with love, care and excitement.

Nursing home 'hires' toddlers to spread smiles among its elderly residents: 'They're so cute'
Cover Image Source: YouTube | TODAY

We all know how children can brighten up anybody's mood. Depending on this phenomenon, the Ichoan Nursing Home in Japan hired a new legion of workers- toddlers, per TODAY. The toddlers come to the facility to cheer up its residents by playing with them. According to Senior Lifestyle, it is an intergenerational program where individuals of two generations come together in the same setting. Through these programs, the objective is for both groups to broaden their horizons and garner valuable lessons. The union of two generations also holds a lot of emotional value for older adults, as they feel isolated in the rush of the world.

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The Ichoan Nursing Home prioritizes the health of the toddlers, giving them the liberty to visit anytime they want and for however long they want. Their job profile includes roaming the halls and entertaining the residents with their antics. They are not compelled to do anything they don't like and are compensated generously at the end of each shift. The compensation is done in the form of ice cream and diapers.


Intergenerational programs have become popular in the last few years. Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging presents four reasons why such programs are successful. First, they provide a greater sense of connection, where different generations come together to help each other. Second, it increases the feeling of purpose, which enhances people's well-being. Third, it provides more learning opportunities, where people share their stories and cheer up each other in the process. Fourth, it positively impacts the mood of a person.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | Mikhail Nilov
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Mikhail Nilov

Loneliness is a complex problem that the whole world is dealing with, especially after the pandemic. In Japan, one-third of the citizens feel isolated, per TODAY. Due to this, the government had to create a Ministry of Loneliness. These programs aid individuals in combatting loneliness by fostering new relationships between people. This program also infuses people with purpose, as both parties work towards maintaining the relationship. Moreover, the dynamic allows both generations to acquire lessons from each other. The effectiveness of the program has made schools, churches and community groups in the USA take children to nursing homes so that both parties acquire benefits of this meet-up.


Kimie Gondo, the director of Ichoan Nursing Home was taken aback by the positive response of the initiative. She brought her granddaughter to participate in it. "When I saw the elderly people smile, I realized the power possessed by infants," Gondo told the outlet. She follows a simple method for hiring. The director puts out the call, inviting children below the age of three to visit the facility. The reason behind keeping the age bar low is she wants the conversations to remain simple.

One of the 70 toddlers who works in the facility is Rena Shinohars. Every day, she is chaperoned by her mother to the facility, where she meets her adorable friends. "She gets to interact with grandmothers and grandfathers," says Rena's mother. "It's funny—I'm not working, but she has a job." The elderly also love the toddlers and the energy they bring to the facility. Residents like Tatsuo Ojiro, 93, look forward to these visits. He gets reminded of his grandchildren whenever the toddlers arrive for a visit. Ojiro says, "It energizes me to see them, so this really helps me!" Another resident, Atsuko Okamura, 81, says, "When they come, they're so cute!"


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