Senior Living: Connect the Generations
By Rhonda Kay Leonard
The holidays bring opportunities to connect the generations. The benefits of connecting elders and youngers are well documented. Spense and Radunovich, with the University of Florida find, “Linking older adults with youth can provide advantages for both groups. For example, such relationships can:
- Provide an opportunity for both to learn new skills
- Give the child and the older adult a sense of purpose
- Help to alleviate fears children may have of the elderly
- Help children to understand and later accept their own aging
- Invigorate and energize older adults
- Help reduce the likelihood of depression in the elderly
- Reduce the isolation of older adults
- Fill a void for children who do not have grandparents available to them
- Help keep family stories and history alive
The University of Florida IFAS Extension offers the following list of activities you might try that initiate, build and strengthen intergenerational relationships:
- Swapping stories is a great activity and can help build a connection.
- Learning skills. Many older adults have skills or talents that would be interesting for children. Perhaps your child could learn to weave, crochet, fish, bake, or even take care of animals.
- Reading to each other.
- Planning/preparing a meal (if applicable).
- Establishing phone pals. This activity can connect older community members with children who are alone after school.
- Talking about ethnic heritage. Share ethnic customs, discuss the meaning of a name in native language, or relate special stories passed down about culture.
- Planting seeds or gardening. This illustrates the stages of the life cycle. A container garden can be created if bending or space are issues.
- Weather watching.
- Telling jokes.
- Discussing hobbies and sharing examples
- Having the child teach the senior a new technology
Both care partners, givers and recipients, benefit with multigenerational exchanges. Take advantage of the opportunity at your next holiday gathering.
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