“Somehow, we have to get older people back close to growing children if we are to restore a sense of community, acquire knowledge of the past, and provide a sense of the future.”
- Margaret Mead, Cultural Anthropologist
Inter-generational friendships and social programs (bringing seniors and kids together for fun and meaningful relationships) provide opportunities for people of all ages to interact and become engaged in mutually beneficial activities and outcomes. In 1963, the Foster Grandparent Program was created, providing opportunities for low-income persons age 60 and over to offer one-on-one supportive services to school children with special or exceptional needs, and reducing poverty and isolation among the elders. Since that time, inter-generational programs have evolved to include people of multiple ages and a variety of issues concerning our society.
Examples of inter-generational programs include the young serving the old, visiting in homes or senior living facilities, providing services in the home, teaching computer skills, etc.; the old serving the young in mentoring programs, tutoring, teen parenting guidance, etc.; older adults and the young serving together in community service, environmental issues, etc.
According to Erik Erikson, Psychologist, the final stage of emotional development is experienced around the age of 60 and older. Cultivating relationships with a younger generation can help older adults feel a sense of fulfillment, and provide advantages for both young and old alike. These relationships can help fill a void for children without grandparents, give each a sense of purpose, help alleviate fears children may have about older adults and aging, aide in cognitive stimulation and broaden social circles.
Some activities to initiate, build, and strengthen intergenerational relationships include:
• Reading to each other
• Teaching new technologies
• Planning and preparing a meal
• Sharing hobbies
• Learning new skills, such as knitting, fishing, sewing, woodcrafts
• Telling jokes
Inter-generational programs benefit the community by bringing together diverse groups and networks and can help clarify misconceptions and negative stereotypes. Such relationships are important for society and help ensure children and teens receive the attention and mentoring they often lack. Research has shown as people age, their brains actually improve in many ways, including complex problem-solving and emotional skills.
Age-related increases in wisdom, life experiences and emotional stability are well-documented. Studies have shown that active and engaged older adults remain in better health, and live longer with better physical and mental health than their non-volunteering counterparts. Children had more improved reading scores in schools where older adults volunteered compared to peers at other schools.
Partners In Care is locally-owned and operated family business providing non-medical home-care in nine Northern California counties.