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"The show 'Old People's Home for 4 Year Olds' leaves me sobbing, and I don't even mind."

“I’ve been sitting here for two years with nothing much else,” says retired florist, Shirley. “I feel like I’m alive again.”

The 84-year-old is one of 11 elderly Australians who volunteered to take part in Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds, an ABC social experiment that captures what happens when a preschool playgroup and a nursing home come together.

Earlier in the show, we learnt that Shirley had screened positive for depression, however soon after being introduced to a gang of 10 cheeky four-year-olds, her mood and energy has significantly lifted.

It’s moments like these that make this show the best hour of television you’ll watch (and probably sob through) all week.

Watch the trailer for ABC’s Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds. Post continues below.

Video by ABC

Currently, we’re three weeks into the seven-week experiment, but the mental and physical changes are evident.

Each episode confronts a specific problem around ageing, from memory loss (episode two), to depression and low mood (episode three), as the group engage in various activities, like show-and-tell, painting portraits of each other, and going to the beach.

With each passing week, we watch the intergenerational friendships between the two groups get stronger, and unsurprisingly, it’s very emotional stuff.

The throwaway commentary from both the children and aged-care residents brings both laughs and tears. After-all, it’s evident that neither group has much of a filter.

“I really love Maureen, because she’s beautiful and I’m beautiful,” says preschooler Michaela.

“You’re being a beautiful granddaughter to me, because I don’t get to see my granddaughter very much – she’s busy,” says 81-year-old Maureen.

Later in a piece to camera she explains that: “Meeting the children is a very important thing to me, because I don’t see enough of my own. Everyone is very busy these days, and by the time they fit in all the activities… I don’t get to see them as often as I would like.”

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“I love people and I need to be out, and I haven’t had enough of it, because my health has not allowed me to.”

Old Peoples Homes for 4 Year Olds
Each week you watch the bonds between the residents and the children get stronger. Image: ABC.

For the audience, Old People's Home for 4 Year Olds is a guilt-inducing, tear-jerking television at its best, but it couldn't have come at a more important time.

According to the show's statistics, globally, there will be 425 million people aged over 80 by 2050, with health issues like loneliness, depression and isolation increasingly common. Furthermore, 40 per cent of people in aged care receive no visitors and some spend up to 20 hours alone in their room.

Australia's ageing population makes it even more important for us to find a sustainable solution. But Old People's Home for 4 Year Olds hints that the fix might just be easier than we think.

You can watch Old People's Home for 4 Year Olds on ABC at 8:30pm on Tuesdays, or on iView. The program is filmed in collaboration with the initiative, Ageless Play which like the show, connects young children to aged care services.

Have you watched Old People's Homes for 4 Year Olds? What did you think of the program? Tell us in a comment below.

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