Sharing and Learning: The Importance of Intergenerational Relationships – Calgary


The Importance of Intergenerational Relationships - CalgaryA big part of growing older is making connections with people who share similar experiences and building relationships based upon common ground.

As we move through different stages of life we understand how important it is to forge meaningful connections with peers that are going through the same things we are at around the same time, because similarities often foster an important level of understanding between individuals. For this reason, the majority of our our friends and strong relationships often end up being created within the bounds of our generation or within the same general age group as us. Groups that exist within our communities are often separated based upon age, but the reality is that there are a whole host of positive outcomes that can come from bringing people from different generations and age groups together to learn from one another and cultivate valuable and fulfilling relationships beyond the boundaries of generation or age.

The old and the young have more in common than we might assume at first thought. Existing at either end of the life course both the elderly and youth live their lives largely outside of the realm of adulthood’s notion of ‘objective productivity’, the basis upon which modern societies in the western world assign so much value. The youngest and oldest members of our societies have the purest opportunity to engage and interact with the essence of being alive, valuing and appreciating each moment and all it has to offer in a special and valuable way that separates both groups from the determinedly busy and stressful life of those in the in-between stage of ‘productive adulthood’.

Through the reciprocal nature of relationships, each age group contributes in meaningful ways to supporting the others. The very foundation of communities depends upon intergenerational webs that connect everyone to each other, but we may not always remember or comprehend just how important nurturing intergenerational relationships can be for all age groups, including seniors.

Activities to Do Together

The building and strengthened of meaningful relationships takes place over time as feelings of connectedness grow deeper and individuals start to feel increasingly comfortable and valued by one another. The following are some examples of potential activities that seniors can take part in with younger friends and family members that can help to foster the growth of deep, meaningful, and reciprocal intergenerational relationships:

  • Cooking/Baking Together
  • Gardening
  • Learning to Use New Technology
  • Playing Board Games or Cards
  • Reading to One Another
  • Scrapbooking
  • Sharing/Teaching Skills and Hobbies
  • Storytelling
  • Talking About Heritage and History
  • Talking About Meaningful Topics
  • Writing Letters Back and Forth

Benefits Both Ways

Among the many valuable and unique aspects of intergenerational relationships is the fact that individuals in varying stages of life can both contribute and reap benefits from taking part in relationships that cross generational gaps. Seniors can contribute to helping children or younger folks to create a better sense of who they are, better understand where they came from, help them to build social skills, make them feel special, instill them with feelings of confidence, expose them to new skills, and improve their capacity to better relate to older people. In a reciprocal way, seniors can also benefit in meaningful ways from relationships with younger people:

  • Cognitive Stimulation
  • Chance to Learn New Skills
  • Chance to Pass on Stories and Wisdom
  • Feelings of Joy and Freedom
  • Feeling Youthful Again
  • Greater Energy
  • Lowered Anxiety and Depression
  • Opportunity to Learn About the Changing World
  • Physical, Mental, and Emotional Exercise
  • Reduced Feelings of Isolation
  • Sense of Purpose

The list of things that seniors can offer to younger minds is long and varied, and there is also a lot that seniors can learn and take from those who are younger than them. Setting up opportunities for seniors to take time to build meaningful and fulfilling connections with younger people, whether they be relatives or not, can help them to improve their ability to relate to others, their confidence, mental health, and sense of self. Whether it be through taking part in activities together or just through taking some time to have conversations and learn about other interest and varying points of view, intergenerational relationships can remind seniors how much they have to offer to others while also allowing them the opportunity to interact with the light and joy of youth.

Contact us today for a Free Home Care Assessment by a Nurse to discuss how our services in Calgary can help you or your loved one.


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