■ Metro Service / Contributed
In the not-so-distant past, extended families frequently lived in close proximity to one another. Such families shared meals and experiences and essentially grew up together. Nowadays, families separate for various reasons, such as job opportunities and cost of living concerns.
While there are advantages to spreading out, there are also some disadvantages, namely that grandparents and grandchildren may not see one another frequently enough. Even though people of different age groups may not entirely have the same interests, the interactions between generations can benefit both young people and their aging relatives.
Finding renewed vigor. Senior living and active lifestyle communities provide invaluable care and amenities for seniors. While being around like-minded individuals can be handy, it’s also limiting. Seniors who continue to age in place in mixed-age communities can extract joy from watching youthful children and young adults growing up, playing and socializing. Being around multiple generations also can spark interesting conversation, and all parties involved can learn something from one another.
Planning for the future. Younger generations may not understand the concept of “hard times” or “doing without” like a person who has lived through various ups and downs. Passing along advice about economic cycles, saving for the future and maintaining stability is one area of expertise at which many seniors excel.
Practicing interpersonal skills. All the technological savviness in the world cannot compensate for the power of strong interpersonal skills. Being able to address a group of people or speak one-on-one is essential in the workplace and in life. When younger generations speak to older adults, they may become stronger at verbal discourse and have greater perspective of different points of conversation.
Learning new technology. Younger generations can impart knowledge of technological devices to older adults. People with skills are usually happy to share their knowledge. Even if seniors aren’t ready to purchase tablets or smartphones, they may be excited to have their grandchildren teach them about the latest gadgets.
Providing sense of purpose. Both seniors and younger generations can realize a greater sense of purpose when interacting with one another. That person may be the reason the other one greets the day with a smile. Visits from grandchildren can reduce the likelihood of isolation and depression in older adults. And younger generations can discover the benefits of personal social interaction rather than communicating exclusively through social media apps.
Fostering intergenerational connections is a great way to broaden social circles, improve communication and learn new things.