A new concept in old people's homes in France. The idea is simple, but revolutionary: combining a residential home for the elderly with a crèche/nursery school in the same building.

Do the preparation task first. Then read the article and do the exercise.

Being old is when you know all the answers, but nobody asks you the questions. (Anonymous)

Six months before she died, my grandmother moved into an old people's home and I visited her there when I was in Britain. She was sitting in the living room with about 15 other residents, mostly women, half of them asleep. The room was clean and warm, with flowers and pictures, and the care assistants were kind and cheerful. The Weakest Link was on the television ('to keep their brains active,' one of the assistants said), and the only other sound was snoring and embarrassing digestive noises. People only moved when they needed to be helped to the bathroom. It was depressing. Gran talked a lot about how much she missed seeing her grandchildren (my nieces, aged 7 and 5), but I knew from my sister that they hated going to visit her there and, to be perfectly honest, I couldn't wait to get away myself.

So I was interested to read a newspaper article about a new concept in old people's homes in France. The idea is simple, but revolutionary: combining a residential home for the elderly with a crèche/nursery school in the same building. The children and the residents eat lunch together and share activities such as music, painting, gardening and caring for the pets which the residents are encouraged to keep. In the afternoons, the residents enjoy reading or telling stories to the children and, if a child is feeling sad or tired, there is always a kind lap to sit on and a cuddle. There are trips out and birthday parties too.

The advantages are enormous for everyone concerned. The children are happy because they get a lot more individual attention and respond well because someone has time for them. They also learn that old people are not different or frightening in any way. And of course, they see illness and death and learn to accept them. The residents are happy because they feel useful and needed. They are more active and more interested in life when the children are around and they take more interest in their appearance too. And the staff are happy because they see an improvement in the physical and psychological health of the residents and have an army of assistants to help with the children.

Nowadays there is less and less contact between the old and the young. There are many reasons for this, including the breakdown of the extended family, working parents with no time to care for ageing relations, families that have moved away and smaller flats with no room for grandparents. But the result is the same: increasing numbers of children without grandparents and old people who have no contact with children. And more old people who are lonely and feel useless, along with more and more families with young children who desperately need more support. It's a major problem in many societies.

That's why intergenerational programmes, designed to bring the old and the young together, are growing in popularity all over the world, supported by UNESCO and other local and international organisations. There are examples of successful initiatives all over the world. Using young people to teach IT skills to older people is one obvious example. Using old people as volunteer assistants in schools is another, perhaps reading with children who need extra attention. There are schemes which involve older people visiting families who are having problems, maybe looking after the children for a while to give the tired mother a break. Or 'adopt a grandparent' schemes in which children write letters or visit a lonely old person in their area. There are even holiday companies that specialise in holidays for children and grandparents together. One successful scheme in London pairs young volunteers with old people who are losing their sight. The young people help with practical things such as writing letters, reading bank statements and helping with shopping, and the older people can pass on their knowledge and experience to their young visitors. For example, a retired judge may be paired with a teenager who wants to study law. Lasting friendships often develop.

But it isn't only the individuals concerned who gain from intergenerational activities. The advantages to society are enormous too. If older people can understand and accept the youth of today, and vice versa, there will be less conflict in a community. In a world where the number of old people is increasing, we need as much understanding and tolerance as possible. Modern Western society has isolated people into age groups and now we need to rediscover what 'community' really means. And we can use the strengths of one generation to help another. Then perhaps getting old won't be such a depressing prospect after all.



Language level

Upper intermediate: B2


 wawa this was a cool texts 

 really that's good.

Thanks that,s good idea 

Congratulations for the text. New Ideas are necessary. It´s a very good oportunity to train my knowledge about English. Sorry for the mistakes.

 Very good idea .Very simple and direct.
I'm  now an old person and I remember how important was my grandmother in my childhood, always there, always ready for a talk, always making herself usefull and being a reference mark for us all.
I consider myself lucky, because I' ve lost her when I was 22 years old, an adult already. But, all of us, my parents, my old brother and myself , we missed her a lot, because  it seemed to us that we've  lost our center.

that,s good idea

Old age...the young ones cannot wait to grow older and the old folks hope they could stop the clock from ticking and freeze the time indefinitely.  Personally, I think it is sad to live in an old people's home. You see people around your age group and your topics of discussions will be limited to the things you see and experience in the old people's home only. The idea to build a creche within the same building as the old people's home is such a novel idea.  If these elderly people are physically fit, then there is no reason why this idea cannot work. Generally the elderly are very loving people and they would devote their time, energy and love caring for the young. Further, they lead such a simple and  unhurried pace of life and as such, the young ones can be patiently nurtured by the elderly people.  My only reservatio is whether the parents to the young ones would allow the elderly to be involved in the caring of their young ones.  Some parents may have their reservations and this revolutionary idea will come to a naught. Parents may be concerned that the elderly people may not have the stamina to care for their young ones. They may also be worried that the environment where there are too many elderly people may not be a conducive environment to care for the young.

 The website is so wonderful.Special thanking is sending to The Learn English Team for your great support  and contribution

In some countries it's shame to keep grandmother or grandfather in old people home. I think their right to stay in the place were they spent most of their  time in. In this case if the old people stay in the same home they well get more support and great environment. Old people need for special care and they need to feel how they effect and make influence in our life.
thank you writer I like your article.

Your texts:

Parvathy Devan writes “Old age is the last stage of human beings on earth in which he could think what's the outcome of his doings on earth. I mean whether his doings are good and useful for the future generation. Many people forget about this stage in their busy life and will regret what they have done in future. As a representative of the younger generation my opinion is that we have to give some more care and attention to aged people. In our country a shocking incident took place a few months ago. A man and his wife locked his aged mother, who is also a mental patient, in a dog's kennel when they were going out somewhere. Some neighbours noticed her screaming and informed the police and they rescued her from the kennel. A case has been registered against the accused by the human rights commission. This is not a single case, in another incident one aged mother committed suicide because her only son and his wife were not ready look after her in this age. Knowing all this people have to think every one will reach this situation soon. Then what could be the reaction of the younger generation? By reading this article two things are clear: the present forgets the past, and the future never forgives the present.”

Aasha Beer writes “Though it is hard to think about sending one’s parents to an old people’s home, both emotionally and socially in our society one can feel that this is going to be an emerging phenomenon in the future. We barely have such old people’s homes. It doesn’t mean that there is no generation gap between the two and everything is running smoothly. There are various problems faced by old and young people in terms of their relationship but paradoxically, on the whole, we don’t appreciate the idea of old people’s homes and we don’t provide our parents with due time and facilities.In my opinion, this is an excellent article both for parents and children. At the same time, this is a fabulous idea to give a chance to old and young people to learn from each other. As a matter of fact, one might not feel comfortable with one’s own relations due to certain reasons but would be worried about strangers of the same age. It is the human psyche that many people have fantasies about others and get irritated by their own relationships. So this is an extremely good idea to put old and young strangers together. It can provide them with a very healthy environment. It is not only old people who are being ignored but children are also facing the same problem in this modern age. Such programs can really teach children how important the older generation is. It will not only help old people to have a breathing space at nurseries but it will also teach children the idea of tolerance at home in future. This is a very important issue of the times and needs to be discussed in every society according to their culture. However, a little attention is being paid to the issue in developing countries.”

Teresa writes “I think it is a terrific idea ... my parents took care of my grandparents until they died and I would do the same with them, but I'm afraid about the moment when they will need my help! Times have changed: my mother was a housewife and had much more time than me. I'm working. But I can’t think about moving my mother into an old people's home because I know how old people's homes are sad. It would be good for children, too. I hope this new French concept of old people's homes will spread around the world.”

Lucy writes “I think it's a very good idea and it would be great to develop it. In fact young people need to learn from older persons. My grandparents are 86 and 84 years old and they still live together in their home. It's difficult because they are losing their memory, my grandmother is not able to cook alone as she has Alzheimer’s disease, so I spend time cooking meals for them, but what I think they prefer is when I spend time talking with them.”

Hilalnajate writes “I agree with the article because old people and their opinions are important for society and everyone will become old in the future and he will need to not be isolated from society. Old people are our pictures in the future, they need help and they need a lot of love.”

Irina writes “I agree with the article. Old people need our attention. We ought to be more patient and more often phone our grandparents. They prefer to live with their family, to feel needed, not to stay alone. When grandparents take part in their family life they remain active longer and happier.”


By Phan Thi Nam Mai On my way home every late afternoon, I nod smilingly at Uncle Hoke, a white-haired gentle old man who lives in the neighbourhood. Uncle Hoke is nearly eighty-five years old. Everyday he goes outside of his modern house, settles in his comfortable chair and looks out at the street. People walk by and greet him. Sometimes, there is a short, casual exchange of words; which happens less and less frequently when more and more people can afford cars. They definitely have a fairly good excuse for not greeting him. Uncle Hoke still sits there every day, gladly welcoming each occasional friendly, respectful nod from the passers-by.

In this modern society, when there are plenty of means for prolonging our life span, we, regrettably, have reduced our appreciation for a happy long life. There are perpetual talks about the aging population and how much burden they will bring to our society. The worry about a potentially high dependency ratio lingers as the most wearisome trouble ever to be dealt with. The whole mammoth economical and social onus reveals much of itself in a domestic scene. In each household, busy working children cannot wait to put their aging parents into old-folks’ homes; and modern grandbabies nag about how senile their grandparents are getting. There have been several resolutions suggested here and there. Promotions in the mass media and a series of government policies are specially designated to prepare society in the upcoming struggle to settle the problems of prolonged life spans. The amount of thought we spend on how the elderly will feel about this is a tiny proportion of that we spare for planning how to deal with them. It is of course sensible to consider the possible problems we will face as a society and how to best resolve them. However, in the process of doing this, sometimes we fail to realise how unsentimental we are to the real needs of the elderly. We forget one day we will grow old too and suffer the same apathy.

Certainly, improved living conditions have done us a mighty favour. We have longer years to enjoy life and be with our loved ones. A long life is seemingly what everybody wants. A higher life expectancy is seemingly a demographic target of every nation. There are established studies of how to live a long life. As modern people, following this professional advice is of course our natural choice. However, how many of us are actually adopting a healthy lifestyle, let alone prolonging it? Every single activity is getting more and more competitive and stressful. We spend five days a week, wrecking our bodies and minds. At the weekends, we race on a schedule of yoga lessons, relaxation exercises, golf games, etc. with the wishful thinking that we could compensate for the number of dead cells we create during the week. Many of the modern technological activities involve use of radiation, which of course, is the ultimate cause of cancers and other life-threatening diseases. Artificial pills, albeit containing nutrition, unfortunately, do more harm than good. We make a rather good sum of money and spend all of it on extravagant medical bills. We think we live longer lives and have plenty of ways to make amends for our deteriorating body parts. That is the huge irony of our modern life.

The secrets of a happy long life belong to those who are born into a fresh, healthy cradle of life. We have much to learn from the Sardians’ healthy diet with “homegrown fruits and vegetables”; the Okinawans’ “cabinets of preventive medicine” and the Adventists’ peaceful spiritual lives. Nonetheless, things will not change much unless we hold the keys of true happy living in our hands and retreat a little from the intense rat-race lifestyle.

Our grandparents live longer because of the warmth of the house and the nurture of a supportive family; not because of the cash we spare to put them in a premium home for the elderly. We need to recognise the importance of vitality, the zest of life. It transcends all materialistic factors to become the key to longevity. So do you want to grow old and stay happy? Love yourself, love your life and love others.