Are intergenerational relationships a thing of the past?
Before the 20th century, multi-generational families used to live under one roof.
But now, age segregation has become an unfortunate reality. We’re divided in schools, at work, even in our communities.
In fact, it seems that age segregation is often as present as racial segregation. A 2013 study found that older (aged over 60) and younger (aged 20–34) people are roughly as segregated as Hispanics and whites.
Given that these connections can play a vital role in our happiness, success, and overall well-being, let’s work on bringing them back.
Today, we share with you the importance and benefits of intergenerational relationships and how to be more engaged in them.
Why are Intergenerational Relationships Important?
Chances are, you have a friend, or several, in the same age bracket as you. But what about relationships outside of your generation?
If you think about it, our most integral relationships are intergenerational — both within our family (our grandparents, parents, children…) and outside of it (our neighbors, teachers, colleagues…).
These are probably among the most influential relationships in your life.
For instance, when you’re younger, you rely on older generations to guide and teach you. This dynamic shifts as you age, where your role is to help the younger generation navigate life.
Put in that perspective, we should do as much as possible to create an environment that discourages age segregation and ageism.
And there’s proof in the pudding.
Just one year of participating in an intergenerational program changes how preschoolers view elders. What’s more, a Generations United study reported that 97% of adult intergenerational program participants reported feeling happier, more interested, loved, younger, and needed.
I’d say that qualifies intergenerational relationships as important, no?
All in all, intergenerational relationships can help create unique and valuable connections between different generations and introduce new ideas and perspectives into your life.
The Benefits of Intergenerational Relationships
Intergenerational relationships improve attitudes, behaviors, and quality of life of both children and older adults.
The idea of engaging with your youngsters (or elders) is not just for the sake of grandparents and grandchildren. It can actually bring about a better quality of life for both parties by sharing wisdom, experience, and perspectives.
For instance, when you engage with youngsters, you can make a real difference in their life by helping them achieve goals and dreams they might not have been able to without your guidance.
The impact of mentoring younger adults is undeniable. They are:
- 55% less likely than their peers to skip a day of school
- 78% more likely to volunteer regularly
- 130% more likely to hold leadership positions
And we know how crucial social interaction is for seniors. Maintaining your brainpower isn’t always easy, but actively engaging in stimulating relationships with younger people may do just that. Plus, hanging out with and helping younger generations leads to:
- Better executive function and memory
- Feeling younger (which serves as a stress buffer and leads to longevity)
- Increased brain volume
In a nutshell, cultivating intergenerational relationships is emotionally rewarding for everyone included.
Let’s quickly cover how to be more engaged by participating in intergenerational projects.
How To Be More Engaged?
It’s our mission to drive more and more people to realize that the elderly are vital members of our society and should be treated with the same care that we would a precious child.
Encouraging intergenerational friendships is a great way to bolster that.
The promising news is intergenerational programs have sprouted up worldwide. The positive impact of these programs is quickly reflected in the community.
If you’re open to joining one, here are some of the most known programs:
And check out Generation United’s list of intergenerational programs and spaces – there are over 900 entries in this extensive database.
Another option is to consider intergenerational living situations, which come with their own set of benefits. For instance, living in multigenerational homes can lead to more happiness, connectedness, and better relationships. But this can also be taxing on your relationships.
Through collaboration and socialization, people of all ages can lead more active, healthy, and engaged lifestyles as well as improve the world around them.
Make an Intergenerational Change Today
As the world moves towards a graying society, let’s co-create, enrich, and commit to lifelong learning that mutually benefits each generation and make friends outside of our age group.
Intergenerational ties have the power to remind us how interconnected we are.
We should build bridges between generations — by creating environments where both youth and older adults can grow together.