Building and Strengthening Intergenerational Relationships

posted Aug 28, 2017, 7:26 AM by Mary Peck

Never in the history of America has the population had more older adults than children. The increasing number of aging family members increases the need for support. Many adults are in the “sandwich generation.” More individuals find themselves responsible for raising children, caring for parents and/or grandparents, and own responsibilities. Science tells us that nurturing relationships with adults are essential healthy human development beginning from birth.

Individuals forced to reside in long-term care and assisted living facilities desire the continued close connection to family and friends. The connection, philosophers’ state, may ward off poor health and premature death. Loneliness is the number one risk factor for functional decline.

The return to school for children brings wonderful opportunities to develop a quality relationship with wise, independent and knowledgeable individuals. Cherish a relationship with loving individuals. Soon the organization activities begin. Leaders with great effort work to provide different and meaningful activities for the members.

Be the entrepreneur of your community that facilitate and encourage intergenerational relationships between children and older adults. Here are some activities that could assist in nurturing a most giving relationship:

1.     Storytelling: Listening to historical stories from the aging community helps build a strong connection.

2.     Letter writing: If transportation presents a problem, write letters or send cards are great options. Each facility has a staff member willing to assist in such an endeavor.

3.     Learning skills: Even though declining health require individuals to reside in nursing care facilities, talents and skills continue to exist. Perhaps the children could learn to take care of animals, crochet, bake or draw.

4.     Reading: Aging individuals with less than perfect vision long for the opportunity to read. Children can practice reading skills and develop a relationship at the same time.

5.     Planting seeds or gardening: Gardening illustrates the life cycle and teaches responsibilities. Create a container garden if space allows. Children learn how to care for the plants.

6.     Weather watching: Aging individuals know much about clouds, stars and weather in general. Cloud watching with descriptions formulates a bond between young and aging.

 A lasting memorable relationship is the quality of time spent together that is the most important. Continued and consistent visits enable two generations to build a non-forgettable relationship. Many of my strongest and fondest memories are those spent with grandparents and aging community members. The conversations, stories, generous love and strength shown to me carry me through my day-to-day living now as well as molded my character as I grew.

In the effort to create lasting memories and relationships, contact the local Ombudsman Supervisor of your area. The SWODA Ombudsman Program serves nursing homes in Beckham, Custer, Greer, Harmon, Jackson, Kiowa, Roger Mills and Washita Counties. For more information about the Ombudsman Program or to become a volunteer in your area, contact Gail Wilcox at 580-562-4882, ext. 132.