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Intergenerational Relationships Make Strong Communities

Intergenerational Relationships Make Strong Communities

They say that everyone you meet knows something you don’t. This is especially true when people of different generations come together and share their experiences and viewpoints. In fact, intergenerational relationships improve lives and help strengthen communities in many ways. Here are the Top Three Ways Intergenerational Relationship Make Strong Communities:

  1. Intergenerational friendships widen perspectives

Having the opportunity to learn from others’ experiences and perspectives is so valuable. It can help us better understand our own viewpoint and to have greater empathy for others. For example, Baby Boomers have lived through several events that continue to reverberate through our current culture. Young people could benefit from hearing their reflections and older adults could benefit from understanding through a 2023 lens.

The National Charity League (NCL) has formed a “Grandfriends” program with residents at Mason Pointe Senior Living Community in Town & Country, Missouri, as part of their philanthropic efforts to bring leadership and service to their community at large. Young women were paired with Mason Pointe residents to share stories and learn from each other. Through asking questions of their grandfriends about their lives and experiences intergenerational friendships were forged.

“It’s nice to have someone of a different age to talk to and share your life with,” said NCL participant Arden Poger in a recent video about her grandfriend.

  1. Intergenerational friendships build connections

Senior Living Communities have the added benefit of multiple generations consistently in one place. For many team members, these residents become a second set of parents or grandparents where they share in both the highs and lows of life. Being connected to one another on a personal level has brought a strong sense of community and dedication to both parties.

Angie Wilson is the Executive Director of Laclede Groves Senior Living Community in Webster Groves, Missouri. She’s seen first-hand how team member and resident relationships have become a cornerstone of their community. This is also true for Laclede Groves residents and students from Green Park Lutheran School who have formed a pen pal program that also includes opportunities to meet with their pen pals in person. “These intergenerational relationships are so beautiful watch blossom. I see great benefits for both the older adults and the younger people as they learn about each other’s experiences and perspectives,” said Angie.

Angela Johnson, CNA in Assisted Living at Mason Pointe, another LSS community, has also formed strong bonds with the residents she serves, even celebrating milestones. “When I received my acceptance letter into nursing school. I told the residents about the letter and everyone was as excited for me as I was! That’s when I knew that Mason Pointe is truly a family,” said Angela.

  1. Intergenerational friendships bring positive health benefits

Strong relationships with those of different generations can also provide social opportunities which combat loneliness and depression. While these are often associated with older adults, younger generations face many moments of feeling lost or isolated as well.

“When our residents talk with our younger team members, they bring so much perspective and hope to them,” said Greta Huseman, Director of Community Enrichment at Concordia Village Senior Living Community in Springfield, Illinois. “They offer a long-range view on what their current struggles may be while also giving in-the-moment reassurances that they are loved, that they are unique, and that they are worthy. And in the same way, I see our team members return that sentiment to residents who may be going through a hard time themselves. The emotional support that’s offered is a real benefit to these relationships.”

Concordia Village took intergenerational interaction to a new level when residents faced off against the Springfield Jr. Blues for a zesty game of Noodle Hockey. Who won the game – the Hockey team or the residents? Read here to find out!

Intergenerational relationships provide numerous benefits. Try it for yourself with these questions and an older adult in your life. You never know what you may learn when you take time to connect and listen!

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