Today, it is less common in the United States for family members to live with seniors in the same home. This means children have less interaction with their grandparents and older generations. There was a time, however, when many generations of the same family would live together in one roof. This practice is still common in many other countries across the world today.
As it turns out, 93% of U.S. adults in a recent survey said children benefit from growing relationships with their grandparents. 92% also agreed that seniors benefit from relationships with children. So, it’s no wonder why intergenerational programs are very popular in senior living.
Benefits for Seniors
Seniors provide meaning, care, and mentorship while children and young adults provide vibrancy, energy, and imagination. Engaging programs where children can play a board game or bingo with seniors provides a huge boost in self-esteem. When seniors have that self-esteem boost, they’re more active, live longer, and are more likely to engage in other activities.
Through these intergenerational relationships, the younger generation can instill their ideas about today’s society. The differences in age groups allow children and grandchildren to show how far culture has come since seniors where children. This is especially true when it comes to technology. Many seniors learn how to use computers, tablets, and smartphones by spending time with children, teens, and young adults.
Building intergenerational friendships with younger generations can also change seniors’ opinions of youth. It’s a way for seniors to connect, learn, and understand how today’s youth is changing society through their actions. It has a significant impact on a senior’s perspective, letting them see the younger generations side. Plus, it’s a way to share stories about when seniors could remember their youthful days and what their aspirations were.
In participating in these programs, seniors greatly benefit from these interactions and feel less lonely or isolated creating strong social bonds.
Benefits for Younger Adults & Children
Kids who take part in intergenerational programs come away with a more positive attitude towards seniors.
They learn about history and about a time when seniors were growing up around the same age. Seeing the difference between generations provides a valuable connection to where society was and is now. Children learn from seniors’ wisdom as well, who can share important first-hand experiences with a wide variety of things. Things like respect, manners, and essential social skills and attention can come from time spent with seniors.
Seniors can significantly impact the future of a younger adult by challenging them to live life differently than they did. Living their life up until now, many seniors have had the time to reflect on their lives. This can help guide younger adults to make decisions and to think of situations differently. Spending time with seniors can help younger adults learn interests, problem solving skills, and hobbies they otherwise may have never found.
Intergenerational relationships also provide a valuable connection through family history. Grandparents pass down stories to relate with experiences or to remember a funny and have a hard laugh. These stories can also offer keen advice for adult children or grandchildren about situations to overcome.
That’s why mentorship is such a time-honored tradition in family relationships around the world. It helps young people learn from senior citizens while also seeing a positive role model in their everyday lives.
Benefits for the Community
Because of intergenerational programs the community will have more respect for senior citizens, and reduce ageism and stereotyping. It creates a sense of understanding and respect for each generation living within the same society. That connected relationship of knowledge, understanding, and respect creates a better overall community.
It also provides a stress-free activity for both the child and senior. Caregivers and family members who have children can participate in these programs giving them some much-needed stress relief. It can even give insight into how beneficial this connection is between families and their loved ones, especially for older adults.
Intergenerational relationships are highly valued throughout history and across the world. We should all do our part to champion this significant benefit to society.