“Connections between generations are essential for the mental health and stability of a nation.” Margaret Mead
Given the world-wide pandemic, everyone has reaffirmed, to themselves and others, the need for connection. Often families focus on ways to ‘help’ their aging loved ones. In reality, there are many similarities between the young and the older persons we surround ourselves with. Ponder this thought, perhaps the aging population can help us as well. Their years of working have provided a variety of life experiences, life lessons, and lots of good stories. The warm feeling of being connected to each other goes beyond to something bigger; the past and the future being blended is priceless.
Some families have the advantage of living in a strong, healthy, intergenerational connection. It consists of an ongoing ‘give and take.’ The adults in this community are supportive to their elders that begin to have health issues. The older members assist their adult children through being supportive, listening, and sharing experiences that were effective for them while raising their family. The older members welcome the opportunity to assist with the children. The children provide a continuous source of joy and affection to the elders within this community.
Intergenerational friendships can be beneficial to both the aging population and the younger generations. Some of the most noticeable benefits include:
Older adults with intergenerational connections:
- Report less sadness, better physical health, and an overall sense of contentment.
- Report feeling hopeful for the future and Invigorated by the energy of the youngsters.
- Feelings of being both a teacher and a student. Sharing life experiences and life lessons with their younger friends. All-the-while leaning from the children new technology, experiencing innocence again, and seeing the world through a child’s perspective.
Children with intergenerational connections:
- Children learn their family history and family members accomplishments.
- Self-esteem and confidence are increased when surrounded in a loving intergenerational environment.
- They have a sense of feeling ‘special’.
If you do not have younger family members nearby, consider volunteer opportunities to connect with youngsters. Open your mind, heart and sole to the possibilities for fulfilling, rewarding connections with individuals of any age. The possibilities are countless in preschools, elementary, high school, and college environments. Technology enables these connections to occur from anywhere.
Connection building and friendships are ageless. Youngsters live in the moment and aging adults are conforming those moments into memories. The payoff for these connections is priceless.