An intergenerational program encourages organized interactions between older and younger age groups. These programs aim to create links between generations, involve people of different ages in various activities, strengthen relationships, and encourage social interaction. Intergenerational activities can add color and richness to life while helping older adults feel valued and useful. Elder Care Alliance encourages older adults to consider becoming more involved in intergenerational activities.
A Case for Intergenerational Programming
Literature describes a disturbing trend of separation between young people and older adults over the last two decades. This separation may be partially due to a need for more recreational outlets targeting both young and old. Also, living arrangements for people under 21 and over 60 years of age are typically highly separated.
While it may not seem like a big deal at first glance, the consequences can be more harmful than most people imagine if older and younger generations grow further apart. Young people could benefit greatly from adult guidance and developing close relationships with older adults. Similarly, older adults benefit socially from interacting with more youthful people regularly. That’s where intergenerational programming comes in.
The National Council on Aging defines intergenerational programming as programs or activities that increase interaction and cooperation between two generations. It often involves sharing knowledge, skills and experience between the old and the young. These types of programs can do much to bridge the ever-increasing gap between the generations and help generations learn from each other.
Ideas for Intergenerational Activities
It may seem like younger and older people can’t naturally spend much time together because they have different interests and physical abilities. However, you may be surprised to discover how many activities multiple generations can engage in together. Here are some examples of wholesome intergenerational activities to try:
- Spending a few hours at a playground
- Engaging in tabletop activities such as cards games and puzzles
- Visiting a senior center that offers intergenerational programs
- Heading to a local library for story hour or to browse through books
- Enrolling in an arts and crafts program together
- Attending a community play or fair
- Volunteering at local schools
These are all great ways to help older and younger generations interact with each other in meaningful ways. People who engage in these types of activities often develop an appreciation for people of different ages. In addition to the social benefits, engaging in intergenerational activities also offers physical health benefits. Adults who frequently volunteer with children have fewer falls and burn up to 20% more calories per week than those who don’t.
But the benefits of these activities aren’t exclusively for older adults. The children who engage in intergenerational programs also benefit. Interacting with positive older adults can help children develop positive attitudes about aging and help them learn how to communicate more efficiently. Children who join intergenerational mentoring programs are also less likely to use illegal drugs or alcohol.
Consider the benefits of engaging in intergenerational activities whether you’re an older adult or have an older adult in your life. These activities can help anyone live a fuller life as they grow older.