Unique programming bridges generation gap
By: Christi Losinski, Marketing Director
Connections across generations are deteriorating and the subsequent gaps between our young and elderly populations are growing. This hasn’t happened purposely, it might be due to the fact that our proximity and relationships across generations have changed over time. The picture of the nuclear family is changing. At one time it was fairly commonplace for grandparents to reside in the same home as their children and grandchildren. Families are more spread out now, not just living in different houses, but sometimes spread across countries or even continents.
Needless to say, just because there is less communication between these generations doesn’t mean it’s any less important. According to an article by Sally Abrahms from Next Avenue, “When generations work together, this can break down stereotypes, change attitudes and lives, foster mutual empathy and improve communities.” When relationships are established we see people as individuals, not “old” or “young.”
We need to make more of an effort in order to bring groups of people together. Many intergenerational programs have been developed and utilized to do just that. “Intergenerational programming,” as defined by the National Council on the Aging, involves “activities or programs that increase cooperation, interaction or exchange between any two generations. It involves the sharing of skills, knowledge or experience between old and young.”
These programs have become essential in the assisted living and long-term care settings and Lakeview Assisted Living is no exception. The Life Enrichment Director has taken great strides in making sure that intergenerational programming is a priority when creating the monthly calendar. Some of the ways in which this is accomplished is through the following:
- Visits from Mommy and Me groups with children ages 5 and under as well as home school groups of all ages
- Adopt a classroom programs - residents will visit the schools, read to children and participate in activities; residents and students meeting regularly throughout the school year and build relationships
- Partnerships with local schools and churches to build relationships and open opportunities for events, entertainment and educational programs where residents can share their experiences with younger generations
- Some teens that interact with residents through school programs also take it a step further and volunteer their time at assisted livings, allowing them to build stronger relationships.
The synergy created by these programs is valuable for all parties involved. For seniors, they provide an increased sense of meaning and purpose, allows them to express creativity and gives them an opportunity to pass along life lessons and experience. The younger generation benefits by enhancing social skills, acquiring role models, learning new skills and developing values.
In a study performed by the National Mentoring Partnership, it was found that “young adults who face an opportunity gap but have a mentor are 55% more likely to be enrolled in college than those who did not have a mentor.” Not only that, but these individuals were also found to be more social, more involved in extracurricular activities and communicate more effectively and frequently with their parents. Essentially, having regular interactions with the senior population translates into healthier communications with adults in general.
As you consider different assisted living or other long-term care options you take a look at the activity programs. Is there a clear emphasis on intergenerational programming? Is it presented in a way that your loved one would participate in the programs? Everyone has something special to offer and we want to do our part in helping to bring meaning and purpose to our Lakeview residents by allowing them to enrich the lives of others.