Connecting young people (children and teenagers) and seniors can be extremely beneficial in fostering understanding between the two generations and helping to promote interaction. It doesn’t matter if the connection is made through organized programs or activities at home -– ultimately the benefits of connecting these two groups will:
• Strengthen the community
• Encourage positive exchanges between the generations
Ageism Affects Everyone
Ageism, or discrimination based on age, can affect anyone. According to statistics, seniors are more likely to face discrimination more often than any other age group. In both daily life (including interactions with their peers) and the media, they are mocked for having “senior moments,” like lapses in memory or physical deterioration.
Young people can also be faced with ageism. Seniors may see them as haughty and disrespectful. This most often occurs when both groups fail to effectively communicate. Young people can perceive the reaction for the senior as “lecturing,” while seniors perceive it as offering valuable advice.
Seniors may have negative feelings about Senior Care because of the way they or others have been treated. Youth may not want to visit seniors who live in communities because they feel as if they are being judged. Children may feel frightened by seniors, who can look very different from the people the children are used to seeing and being around. Also, adults may also feel uncomfortable because they are reminded that they too will grow old.
The Benefits of Bringing Generations
Together To say that one generation cannot understand the other is false. Each has much to learn from the other. Intergenerational programs bring these two age groups together to participate in activities and cultural exchanges. By requiring socialization during the programs, both groups can help each other:
•Understand and embrace their similarities and differences
•Encourage learning about the other group
Strengthen Communities through Mutual Understanding
With increased communication, stereotypes are dismissed and both groups feel less alienated and more comfortable. Seniors who live in assisted living communities and the young people who visit their senior loved ones also get the benefit of enhanced socialization.
With more positive views of seniors, young people will be more likely to take greater care and treat them with more respect. With an increased interest in the community, both age groups will be more receptive to volnteering and seek to improve the area in which they live.
Each generation can learn from the other. Despite popular misconceptions, seniors are capable of learning new skills. By interacting with and learning from youth, they can have a better grasp of new technologies and expand skills they already have.
Seniors can also mentor younger people, which can give the senior a sense of purpose and accomplishment. Young people who have positive role models in their lives have a positive self-image and are less likely to drop out of school. Being taught by an older generation could help children develop greater comprehension and empathy skills.
For more information about volunteering or mentoring please call Dogwood Forest of Grayson 678-496-2319, www.DogwoodForest.com/Grayson