Intergenerational Connections

posted Aug 15, 2016, 6:29 AM by Mary Peck

Now is the perfect time to develop intergenerational relationships between the younger and older. All ages in our communities, from the very young to the old, should be valued. But often the oldest old in nursing homes and assisted living facilities often feel isolated, excluded, not needed or worthless.  Surprising to many adults, children often value the opportunity to make a difference in an older person’s life. They even become comfortable inside a nursing home facility. Children even learn responsibility because the older people depend on them.

Thus, visiting the elderly offer rewards to both. Children gain a loving supportive surrogate grandparent. The elderly gain a visitor and friend. Visits provide sharing of historical events allowing children to gain new perspectives additionally learn important values of volunteering. The elderly also learn about current topics such as texting, music and others from the younger visitors.

The experience of spending quality time with elderly makes for a meaningful exchange of conversation, history and ideas. Very deep, meaningful relationships are born within the intergenerational visits. Allowing children to participate in visiting elders, promotes healthy lifestyles, enhances development, teaches life skills, improves the community, and encourages a service ethic.

Unfortunately, excuses continue to exist as reasons not to visit. It’s depressing. It smells. There’s wheelchairs. You hate nursing homes. Actually, these very excuses become the best reasons to visit. While visiting, determine if residents are treated with dignity and respect.  Does the staff interact joyfully with residents? Any real human connection going on with residents during the visit?  Stare our fears in the face. Visit.

Once you have moved past the excuses not to visit, figure out joyful constructive ways to visit. You may even enjoy the time informally visiting.

For information about services for area aging, please contact Gail Wilcox, SWODA AAA ombudsman supervisor, 800-627-4882, ext. 132, or by email at gail@swoda.org.