Intergenerational Relationships Can Offer Significant Benefits for Seniors
As we progress through the various stages of life, we build relationships with others who tend to share similar interests and experiences. For this reason, it often ends up that our friends and strong relationships develop within the bounds of our generation or at least within the same general age group. While our social circles are often segregated by age, the truth is that there are many positive outcomes to be gained from intergenerational interaction.
People from different generations and age groups can come together, learn from one another, and build meaningful relationships that extend beyond age boundaries. The young and the old share more in common than it might seem at first glance. At divergent ends of the life course, both youth and the elderly exist outside of the realm of society’s objective productivity expectations.
It seems that youth and seniors alike have the purest opportunity to interact with the simple essence of being alive. This simplicity offers the ability to appreciate each moment as it is in a unique and important way that separates both groups from the unyieldingly busy and stressful life of those who are in between.
Through the reciprocal nature of relationships, each age group helps to support the others in valuable and meaningful ways. Communities are built on intergenerational webs that connect us all, but we might not always understand just how valuable nurturing intergenerational relationships can be for all parties, including seniors.
Relationships are built and strengthened over time as feelings of connectedness build and bonds fortify. The following are some activities in which seniors and youth can engage together to foster the growth of intergenerational relationships:
- Sharing/Teaching Skills and Hobbies
- Cooking/Baking Together
- Reading to One Another
- Talking About Heritage and History
- Learning to Use New Technology
- Writing Letters Back and Forth
- Playing Board Games or Cards
- Meaningful Discussions and Quality Time
One of the things that is so deeply special and unique about intergenerational relationships is that people in different stages of their lives have something to offer as well as something to learn from generational gaps. Seniors can help children or youth build a better sense of who they are, understand where they came from, and help them to develop social skills and healthy self-esteem. Reciprocally, seniors can also reap deeply meaningful rewards from relationships with younger people:
- Sense of Purpose
- Cognitive Stimulation
- Feeling Youthful Again
- Chance to Learn New Skills
- Increased Energy
- Reduced Feelings of Isolation
- Alleviated Stress and Anxiety
- Feelings of Joy and Freedom
- Physical, Mental, and Emotional Exercise
- Chance to Pass on Stories and Wisdom
- Opportunity to Learn About the Changing World
Seniors have a lot to offer young minds, but also have a lot to gain from them. Creating opportunities in which seniors have the chance to build connections with younger people, whether they be relatives or not, can help improve daily life fulfilment.