Research shows that connections across the generations benefit everyone, it is called intergenerational transfer. I was interested to read about a recent Channel 4 documentary which was inspired by American practice. For this experiment, remarkably the first of its kind in the UK, a group of 4 year olds were introduced into a retirement community for 6 weeks. Residents who volunteered to be in the documentary underwent tests on mood, memory and mobility – most were feeling that life was dull and a third were suffering from depression. Then the children arrived and both age groups shared a programme of group activities and simply connected as people. Unsurprisingly the seniors scored better on the tests when repeated, with their moods significantly improved (70%) and their mobility better (80%).
The programme asked important questions about the quality of care for the elderly and how their lives can be vastly improved in quite a simple way. With studies reporting high levels of loneliness amongst the older generation and the isolation that many experience in residential homes, could this show a relatively easy-to-implement solution?
It’s important as we age to remember the value of “intergenerationality” and find ways to have younger people in our lives in some way. If family does not provide this there can be other ways that we can make those contacts if we are creative and courageous.