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Before my elderly grandfather died earlier this year, he spent several years confined to bed and unable to speak because of advanced dementia. But the one thing he always enjoyed seeing was a baby.
As father of six and grandpa of 20, he had always loved babies. Even as his mind and body slowed, he would stare and smile when I brought one of my babies to see him.
One of the last things he ever said to me was an observation about my baby son. A few years later, one of the last times I saw him move was when I brought my baby daughter over to see him and he reached out a finger to touch her foot.
So when I heard about a new initiative at a nursing home in Japan, it struck me as a genius move.
The head of the nursing home hit upon a brilliant idea to bring joy to the facility’s elderly residents. She’s recruited 32 babies from local families to come visit the residents.
It all started when Gondo Kimie, head of the facility, noticed how residents cheered up when her infant grandchild began visiting the home about two years ago. The baby brought a smile to every face, as babies so often do.
The home began distributing leaflets around the neighborhood and posting open calls for babies on social media. CNN reports,
A nursing home in southwestern Japan is hiring some unusual new employees: babies. The generous compensation package from the Moyai Seiyukai home in Kitakyushu city includes flexible hours, baby formula and diapers – and cups of tea at the in-house cafe for accompanying mothers. In return, the new recruits – who must be age 3 or under – are being asked to “visit whenever you want” and “walk around as much as you like.”
The effort has been a huge success. “Even the people who usually don’t speak much and don’t smile a lot or don’t move, as soon as they see the babies, their facial expressions get brighter,” Gondo told CNN.
Knowing how babies bring so much happiness, I wonder if this initiative could spread to other places. It really seems like a beautiful way to spread happiness and foster sweet relationships among the different generations.