Benefits of Intergenerational Relationships
Though the interests of a young person and an older adult may differ, there are unique benefits to intergenerational relationships.
Retirement communities, assisted-living centers, and other facilities for older adults are implementing programs in which young people and residents can interact. During visits, children and young adults engage in activities with the residents. A senior facility in Seattle was recently featured in The Atlantic for its intergenerational programming. The founder of another intergenerational program in Minnesota, called Olu’s Center stated in 2016, “You’re going to see more and more intergenerational programs as people live to be older, and more young people are being born.”
Benefits for Children
The benefits of programs like these for children include making them more comfortable with the older adults in their own family. It also removes stigma, as well as a fear of aging for children. Kimberly Baar, director of the Shoreville KinderCare center in Oregon, has stated that despite the age difference it is fairly easy for the children and adults to interact. Especially with older adults, who have memory problems, Baar says, “They’re all about the fun they’re having right then and there, just like the kids.” This is an interesting perspective that brings the two generations together.
Benefits for Seniors
As a grandparent, many people feel the freedom to be more lenient and fun with young children. The same goes for intergenerational relationships with unrelated children. Elders feel the same “joyful freedom” a grandparent might. Studies have shown that older adults that spend time with young children report less depression. They are also in better physical health and have higher rates of life satisfaction. Seniors who interact regularly with children have shown to be happier, and have a more hopeful sense.
Isolation is an issue many seniors face. Whether they don’t live close to their families or don’t have any, isolation affects many older adults. Lack of meaningful interaction can cause depression and leave a person restless. Also, since these seniors are retired, they have tons of free time. Having something to look forward to, like a young visitor is exciting and can raise their spirits. An intergenerational relationship can also be a rewarding teacher-student relationship. Seniors can teach their younger counterparts life lessons and depart wisdom. The younger generation can teach them about modern day things, like technological advances. Children can also help seniors to see the world through their eyes, full of hope.
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