The Fun and Value of Intergenerational Programs
Thanks to advances in science and medicine, people are living longer than ever. That means the retirement years can be lived in a fulfilling and independent manner. But there is also a challenge: How do we promote youth and elderly interaction?
The answer to connecting our youngest and oldest generations may be intergenerational programs, which help to bring seniors and kids together to form mutually beneficial relationships. Both groups have a lot to each and learn from each other, making these intergenerational activities and programs magical.
The benefits of intergenerational activities are many. Along with being fun, intergenerational programs are advantageous to kids’ and seniors’ lives, as well as society as a whole.
Generations United, a non-profit dedicated to improving the lives of people all ages through intergenerational collaboration, public policies and programs, shares a number of benefits and statistics that underscore the importance of intergenerational programming.
Benefits of Intergenerational Activities for Seniors
Intergenerational volunteering helps keep older generations active. Elder adults who volunteer with children regularly burned 20% more calories per week, relied less on canes, had fewer falls and exhibited better memory than their peers.
Adults experiencing dementia and other cognitive impairments have more positive effects during interactions with children than they did during non-generational activities.
Health benefits seem to be plentiful for senior volunteers. Nationalservice.gov reports that volunteering keeps older adults healthier. A study noted that Senior Corps volunteers self-rated their health better than those who did not volunteer. They also reported significantly less depression and feelings of isolation.
Other statistics found:
- 88% of older adults reported less feelings of isolation after two years.
- 84% reported better or more stable health.
- 78% said they felt less depressed two years later.
- 71% reported an improvement in their companionship status.
- 32% reported improved health after two years
Many older adults seek to work with youths. In fact, 45% of retirees say they want to work with young people. And it’s not just to share what they know. Older adults learn new innovations and technologies from their younger counterparts.
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Benefits of Intergenerational Activities for Seniors for Children
Some of the benefits for children are academic. Students at schools where older adults were regularly available had better reading scores compared with students in other schools.
But there are other positives, as well. Interacting with older adults helps young people develop communication skills, positive attitudes about aging, problem-solving abilities, social networks and a sense of purpose.
Young people in intergenerational mentoring programs are 52% less likely to skip school, 46% less likely to begin using illegal drugs and 27% less likely to begin using alcohol. That may be partly because they have positive role models with whom they can interact regularly.
One such program is offered by AARP. Its Experience Corps is an intergenerational tutoring program led by older volunteers. Its goal is to help children who aren’t reading at grade level become better readers by the end of third grade. A study conducted at the end of the 2019 school year indicated that students had statistically significant improvements in social-emotional learning after working with Experience Corps volunteers.
Benefits of Intergenerational Activities for Seniors for the Community
Intergenerational programs connect diverse groups and networks and help dispel stereotypes. All age groups are less alienated while the community recognizes that they can be contributing members of society.
Intergenerational community service programs can engage older adults and youth as volunteers in different types of opportunities and populations. Such programs also help older generations transmit cultural traditions and values to younger ones, helping to build a sense of identity while encouraging tolerance.
Get Connected With Intergenerational Programs
We at Senior Lifestyle feel that connecting our wisest and newest generations is something we are honored to do for our residents, the students, and society.
Find out more about intergenerational programs:
Also check out Generations United’s Intergenerational Program Database.
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