Children and senior citizens often have much more in common than more than meets the eye. Grandparents and grandchildren seem to form special bonds in many families, but sadly, we live in a world where older generations are spending more of their days alone. As of 2010, over 11 million senior citizens living outside of nursing homes were without a roommate of any type, and the likelihood of living alone only increases with age.
Thankfully, intergenerational programs are gaining popularity and recognition. These arrangements connect children with senior citizens who may not have younger family members to bond with, effectively creating mutually beneficial relationships. The activities shared between these two groups can range from anything to teaching older individuals about the newest forms of technology, to having children learn about new ways to approach certain situations in life they are bound to come across. The goal is to create meaningful, transformative bonds between two generations who can greatly benefit from each other’s presence in a variety of ways.
Both parties learn new skills
The generational gap between children and senior citizens is filled with educational opportunities. What senior citizens may have an enormous amount of experience in, children are more than likely lacking in terms of knowledge of that field. They can learn a large amount of information from the wisdom older individuals possess.
Conversely, children can teach their elders about things they might have little access to. As mentioned before, younger generations are much more in tune with technology today than they were in decades past. From smartphones, to tablets, to newer types of computers, children and teens can teach seniors how to use these devices and harness the advantages that come with them.
Creates a sense of purpose
Many senior citizens today may feel like their life’s purpose has dwindled in their later years, leading to a lack of fulfillment. By introducing them to intergenerational programs, this feeling can be directly combatted. Going off of the aforementioned benefit, the skills that seniors bring to the table and teach children gives them responsibility and a sense of purpose.
Children who are looking to help others in any way that they can will find purpose through intergenerational programs as well. As I have discussed before, giving and charitable efforts have a positive, direct impact on a child’s well-being.
Reduces elderly depression
These programs have been linked to lower levels of depression and social isolation in older individuals suffering from these complications. Spending long periods of time alone can have damaging effects on a senior citizen’s mental health, but allowing them to positively interact with a younger crowd can prevent, and even reduce symptoms.