With feelings of isolation and loneliness affecting the greater popular throughout this pandemic, building and maintaining intergenerational relationships can be key to improving mood and boosting morale. Intergenerational relationships are relationships that involve all different age groups, from seniors all the way down to young children. We all know the joy that connecting socially can bring us, and this is only heightened when we are interacting with people of all ages. Interacting across generations means sharing stories, advice, traditions, and information.
Intergenerational relationships can happen in your family, your community, your friendship circle, or even your street! Having a strong relationship with other generations can be beneficial in numerous ways. Typically, younger generations benefit from socialising with older generations by the wisdom, traditions, and advice that is passed on. Older generations benefit from being around the positive and fun-loving attitude that children and younger generations typically bring. This can be witnessed through many different examples, in particular, ABC TV’s “Old people’s home for 4 year old’s” television show. This show follows a group of seniors interacting with pre-schoolers, and how this benefits both parties. This social experiment showed improved mental health and levels of happiness in the seniors, as well as improving their general health and wellbeing by enticing them to be more active and engaged.
So how can you start improving your intergenerational relationships?
Perhaps one of the most beneficial aspects of interacting across generations is the ability to share stories and life experiences. Our outlook on life is generally limited to what we have experienced ourselves. The ability to hear stories from people of different ages is a wonderful way to learn, grow, and view life a little differently. While there may be stories that you don’t think are particularly interesting, you might be surprised at how people in different age brackets find them fascinating!
Finding teaching moments
There is no better feeling than helping someone else. We all love to support others and feel like we are making a difference, so what better way to do this than across generations. One of the foundations of intergenerational relationships is being able to share skills with somebody younger than you. This can not only boost their own self-esteem, but yours as well! As we age, we can sometimes feel like we have less of a purpose and can feel a little lost. These teaching moments create purpose and have been shown to increase satisfaction with day-to-day life.
Invite the family for a visit
Sometimes, a visit from our family is all we need to brighten our mood. If your children and grandchildren haven’t seen where you are living, invite them over for a tour! Having them in your space will not only make your house feel more like a home, but you can invite them to add their own special touches. Try making some arts and crafts with your grandchildren and displaying this around your home. If there’s anything that needs to be fixed or dealt with around your home, now can also be a great time to ask your visiting children for help.
Make friends with your neighbours
No matter their age, it’s always a wonderful idea to build a relationship with your neighbours or those living nearby. Having a friendship with a younger family can give seniors a level of support that they may need, whether it be with jobs around the house or help with the groceries. Interacting with younger children is also a great way to improve mental health. Studies have shown that when older generations interact with younger children, it aids in cognitive stimulation as well as improves memory and self-esteem.
Organise frequent calls
Not every family lives close together or has the ability to visit each other. Sometimes we’re separated across cities, or even countries. Connecting across long distance can be difficult, and when life gets busy, it can often get forgotten. One great way to stay connected and maintain your intergenerational relationships is to schedule frequent phone or video calls. This way you and your family both know when to be available to catch up. If you have a larger family, this is also a great way to make sure all of those busy children and grandchildren are available at the same time.