Here are just six of the many benefits these programs are bringing to participants of all ages!
- Energize older adults and give them a sense of purpose, especially when they’re sharing their experience and skills. According to Generations Unlimited, older adults who regularly volunteer with children burn more calories per week, experienced fewer falls, and do better on memory tests than their peers.
- Reduces a sense of isolation for older adults and potentially relieves or lessens depression.That’s what happened at our Buddy Program in Billings, Montana. As one of the participating teachers put it, “Originally, the program began as a way to share what was happening in the younger generation and show how technology is now helping today’s students learn with seniors. But it actually grew from this original idea. Friendships were built!”
- All generations learn new skills. Older adults can learn new technologies from the younger generation and youth can benefit from mature mentoring from their wise friends.
- Helps younger generations understand aging and face their own more positively. One example is The Learning Center at The Palms of Largo, a community managed by The Goodman Group in Florida. Here kids and their “grandfriends” interact daily. The children see residents using assistive devices like walkers and wheelchairs on a regular basis, dispelling any concerns or fears they may have. It also “gives teachers the opportunity to explain what those devices are for and how they help.
- Dispels negative stereotypes and encourages bonding among generations. Speaking about an intergenerational theater production, one executive director told the story of how someone with dementia became very close with two shy seven-year-old twin girls.
- For children and youth who don’t have grandparents or other seniors in their families, engaging with older adults fills a social gap. According to Forbes, intergenerational programs may be “our kids’ best chance to learn from a caring older adult who not only has ‘been there and done that,’ but has a biological and instinctive need to give the next generation the best opportunity to succeed.”
ANALYSIS: After reading an article on the effects of social isolation since COVID, I began to realize there was a need for social connection amongst all ages. This led to wanting to explore opportunities for intergenerational connections. I didn’t realize there were existing programs such as The Buddy Program, in which younger generations are connected with a member of an older generation. This loosely was an idea I had in creating an intergenerational relationship in which a younger generation is able to obtain a mentor and an older generation benefits from being able to mentor someone.
Group, The Goodman. “What Are the Benefits of Intergenerational Programs?” The Goodman Group Blog, https://blog.thegoodmangroup.com/benefits-of-intergenerational-programs.