Not only does intergenerational activity pass along knowledge and wisdom, it can lead to longer, healthier lives. While finding common ground may be a bit of a challenge, it can be rewarding for all ages. Studies have proven this interaction reduces isolation and poverty among seniors while enabling them to serve as mentors for younger adults.
As Margaret Mead states, “Somehow we have to get older people back close to growing children if we are to restore a sense of community, a knowledge of the past, and a sense of the future.”
Here are a few tips for intergenerational activity:
Keep an Open Mind
Seniors and grandchildren alike can learn a lot from each other if both parties keep an open mind and appreciate the unique opportunities and challenges that can accompany the interactions.
Differences in generations can also bring a collision of values. It is important to respect the variances in lifestyle and belief. When individuals come together, inaccurate and negative stereotypes are broken. As organizational development scholar Dr. Morris Massey said, “We don’t have to agree with the values of different generations, but we can strive to understand the mind-sets of different generations and how each group sees the world based on their experiences.”
Find Common Ground
Both seniors and those from Generation X can relate to the impact a downturned economy played on their lives. Baby Boomers were most likely influenced by parents who grew up during the Great Depression. That provides common ground for younger generations who struggled with a double digit inflation and a challenging job market.
Bridging the differences of age and beliefs requires flexibility in actions and thinking. The Charmm’d Foundation offers more tips in staying flexible and communicating with other generations at http://www.charmmdfoundation.org/resource-library/effective-communication/checklist-communicating-different-generations.
Differing generations can become advocates for one another to provide solutions for illiteracy, crime prevention, health and environmental issues. Generations United provides that intergenerational activities allow seniors to remain active and engaged. This interaction results in longer life spans with better mental and physical health while keeping them engaged in their communities.
Research from the organization also stated, “Older adults who regularly volunteer with children burn 20% more calories per week, experience fewer falls, are less reliant on canes and perform better on a memory test than their peers. Older adults with dementia experience more positive effect during interactions with children.”