There is no feeling in the world quite like companionship, don’t you agree? It makes us feel wanted, appreciated and improves our quality of life. That friendly face you can talk to. The chance to meet new people and being connected to your community. Here at The Creation Station, we’re helping to bring that sense of involvement to more people, young and old.
“Social engagement between generations is a key factor for the well-being of all.” T.O.Y. 2017
“Intergenerational practice is inclusive and builds on the positive resources that younger and older people have to offer each other and those around them.” Beth Johnson Foundation, 2009.
The sixteen key benefits, as highlighted by research and evaluation studies are as follows:
Benefits For Older Adults:
1. Energizing Adults to provide feelings of invigoration, better general health and well-being.
Intergenerational activities have been proven to energize older adults and give a sense of purpose, especially when they’re sharing their experience and skills. Working with children can even have health benefits for the elderly. According to Generations Unlimited, older adults who regularly volunteer with children burn more calories per week, experience fewer falls, and do better on memory tests than their peers.
2. Reduced sense of isolation
Shared activities across generations can also reduce a sense of isolation for older adults and potentially relieve or lessen depression. We know that loneliness and depression are a big concern for today’s seniors. By providing a way for seniors to interact with younger generations, they afford the opportunity to build lasting relationships.
3. An increase in physical, mental, and creative activity.
Brighter Bervie is a voluntary gardening group that hosts intergenerational activities in Inverbervie, Aberdeenshire. Since 2018 the reported positive impact for older people included a sense of enjoyment, new friendships and increased physical activity levels. Older people felt sharing their life’s experiences and stories to the young generation was rewarding and they enjoyed hearing about the children’s newly-learned knowledge.
The project was evaluated through observation, photography, and by asking questions from the participants informally. The organisers observed that both younger and older people undertook more physical activity by being part of the project. (www.iriss.org.uk/)
4. Improvement in brain function.
Evidence shows that new brain connections can be created in older people when learning a new skill.
Older adults, including those with dementia and similar cognitive impairments, have been shown to have improved memory and a more positive outlook as a result of interacting with young children. Children also benefit hugely from the unconditional attention a relationship with an older person can provide – improved confidence and communication skills are seen, vocabulary improves, social barriers are broken down. It’s a win-win scenario!
5. Feeling less isolated, empty, or lonely.
Anam Cara is an intergenerational project in Kilbirnie which aims to tackle stereotypes around dementia by connecting older people and young children for the benefit of both age groups (started in 2015). Ten children aged 3 -5 years from St. Bridget’s Early Years Centre visit the residents of the Anam Cara residential care home aged 55–98 every second Thursday for two hours.
Reported impact on older participants include:
- Increased mobility and flexibility which can reduce the incidence of falls
- Increased incidences of laughter and singing which could increase wellbeing
- Remembering old skills e.g. playing a musical instrument, knitting, and other crafts which could be linked with a sense of value
- Learning new skills e.g. computer games
The project was evaluated through participant feedback sheets and from comments made immediately following the children’s visits. The project also has photographic evidence of the physical activities during the children’s visit. Additionally, the project reports that carers of people with dementia are arranging their respite dates to coincide with the intergenerational activities as they feel it benefits the project (www.iriss.org.uk/)
Benefits For Children:
6. Helping younger participants understand aging
One of the great benefits for our younger participants is how these activities help younger generations understand aging and face their own more positively. One example is The Learning Centre at The Palms of Largo, a community managed by The Goodman Group in Florida. Here children and their “grandfriends” interact daily. The children see residents using assistive devices like walkers and wheelchairs on a regular basis, dispelling any concerns or fears they may have. It also “gives teachers the opportunity to explain what those devices are for and how they help. It lets the children know that there’s nothing to be afraid of or uncomfortable about aging or disabilities. It also reassures them that their older friends are being well cared for and loved.”
7. Learning values and norms, and how to interact with older people from different backgrounds.
Intergenerational programmes involve bringing children or young people and older adults together with the aim of improving intergenerational relationships (Chua et al 2013; Gaggioli et al 2014). Often, the focus of programmes is to change young people’s attitudes towards older adults, although some projects consider the attitudes of, and implications for, older adults themselves (Drury et al 2017). Drury et al’s review found that intergenerational contact is linked with several positive behaviours and less likelihood among young people of stereotyping and aging anxiety.
8. Development of teamwork skills.
Collaborating and sharing ideas with others helps to develop skills that assist with working with others. Listening to and understanding different points of view is a valuable lesson for appreciating we can all add value and contribute.
The positive effects of these relationships are tangible for both age groups, but also pay dividends for the wider community
9. A better connection between generations helping to build bridges and close gaps.
Intergenerational activities can help different age groups relate to and value one another – reducing ageism, breaking down stereotypes, and increasing empathy.
10. An improved social bond and solidarity between young and old.
"My daughter, Sophie, and I have been to several of the Creation Station intergenerational sessions and we have thoroughly enjoyed each one. It is lovely to see how the two generations interact with each other and help each other with the craft they are doing. Sophie loves crafting and being able to share her “skills” with someone other than mum is great. The activities are always different and so far we have always sat with different residents, even when visiting the same place. I enjoy talking to the residents about Sophie (as they are very interested in her) and about themselves and their lives. I would highly recommend this for both older and younger generations as it is clear to see the enjoyment the session brings both." Amanda
11. Can reduce levels of fear of crime through a better understanding of younger people.
These opportunities can help dispel inaccurate and negative stereotypes. In some instances, it can reduce levels of, or fear of crime through a better understanding of the lives of younger people. This may also have an impact on the overall satisfaction levels of people within the community.
12. Provides excellent opportunities to pass on collective community and life memories to children.
Intergenerational work can help to promote the transmission of cultural traditions and values from older to younger generations and vice versa. This can help to build a sense of personal and societal identity while encouraging tolerance.
13. Leads to more people being active citizens in their community.
Intergenerational activities can help improve attitudes to older people, including generating greater understanding, more respect, and alleviating fears of getting older by seeing older people being active and enjoying their lives.
14. Results in sharing of spaces, facilities, and resources.
Encouraging a mix of ages to attend activities can help make activities more accessible to some more isolated community members. For example, the Chat and Splash group, which meet to swim and socialize in Balsall Heath, were able to reach older Asian women who only started attending because their daughters or daughters-in-law accompanied them. Having younger relatives attend with them acted as an enabler in getting the older women to come and build their confidence.
15. Increased satisfaction with home and neighbourhood.
Lives are becoming more segregated for many people. Accommodation for older people, for example, is often set apart from where younger generations live. Therefore, activities shared between generations, can help to create a greater sense of community by bringing different groups (such as different ethnic groups, faith groups, etc.) within those communities together.
16. Development of greater understanding and tolerance of others
Intergenerational projects enable cultural traditions and values, as well as new innovations and technology to be shared between generations, This helps build a sense of personal and community identity while encouraging tolerance.
The Creation Station provides a wonderful selection of creative intergenerational classes. If you work with the young or old, we can help you with intergenerational fun activities. Contact your local Creation Station leader atwww.thecreationstation.co.uk