Thanks to advances in science, medicine and technology, people are living longer than ever before, and they have the ability to stay connected with the world on an unprecedented scale. Being connected and socializing is one of the major components of happy living, and it’s one that you never outgrow. That’s why it’s so important for people of all ages to come together to interact and learn from one another.
The beauty of intergenerational events is that the benefits go both ways. Studies show that children who participate in activities with older adults tend to have improved reading scores, communication skills, problem-solving skills and a positive attitude toward community service. They are also much less likely to start using drugs or alcohol, and they are less likely to skip school.
For the seniors who volunteer with children and teens, studies show that they tend to burn more calories, experience fewer falls and perform better on memory tests than their peers. Additionally, older adults with dementia and other cognitive impairments experience more positive effects during interactions with children than they do during other types of activities.
A good example of an intergenerational activity right here at The Legacy Willow Bend is the partnership between the community and Gulledge Elementary. Every Tuesday and Thursday, residents from The Legacy Willow Bend travel to the school to offer support by helping students with homework, reviewing study materials and discussing topics of interest to the students. The interaction is truly beneficial for both the students and the seniors, and both groups come away with a sense of accomplishment and positivity.
Intergenerational events and programs also bring together diverse groups of people and help dispel negative and inaccurate stereotypes. They allow people to learn about changes in culture and technology. Children frequently expose older adults to new technology, vocabulary and social norms, and older adults teach children about history, traditional cultural values and customs, as well as provide a sense of identity and understanding.
Another example of an intergenerational event at The Legacy Willow Bend was when students from BBYO (formerly B’nai B’rith Youth Organization, now BBYO, Inc.) visited the senior living community. More than 40 high school-aged students came to the community, where they divided into groups and spent time with residents. The students and residents participated in various activities and projects while getting to know one another. For many of the community’s Jewish residents, this visit was a unique opportunity to share traditions and memories.
These kinds of events really mean the world to the seniors and the kids that participate in them, and The Legacy Willow Bend hopes to encourage people in the greater community to participate in intergenerational activities and partnerships. Whether it’s teaming up with a school or a youth group – or just holding an event encouraging residents’ families to visit with the whole community, there are plenty of opportunities to have intergenerational interactions.