Compassionate Caregiving: The power and importance of intergenerational relationships

We know that seniors are full of wisdom and have much to offer our society. They are key to our communities and important to the upbringing of our youth.

But do you know the benefits and specifics of how seniors impact the youth?

Youth who have regular interaction with a senior mentor experience the following benefits:

More likely to trust their parents and have better communication with them.Less likely to experience symptoms of depression.More likely to participate in sports or extracurricular activities.Less likely than their peers to use drugs.Less likely to start drinking.

What benefits do the seniors experience from spending time with our youth?

A better attitude and outlook on aging.Substantial reduction in feelings of isolation and loneliness.Improved sense of purpose and meaning.Opportunity to learn new skills or sharpen known skills, especially in communication and technology skills.20% more calories burned.Less falls and less reliant on canes.Performed better on memory tests compared to peers who did not connect with children.Opportunity to pass along life lessons and family stories.

Let’s let the power of intergenerational activities optimize the benefits for both the young and young at heart. With so many tangible benefits for both parties, it is the pure definition of a win-win initiative. And these interfaces don’t happen by accident.

When I ask people who do this well how they make it happen, they tell me that we need to be conscious and schedule quality time together to set the stage.

If you are looking for ideas of things they can do together, here are a few to help:

Read together.Watch movies together.Engage in lessons of any kind (knitting, crocheting, baking, fishing, birding, sports).Scrapbook.Craft.Photograph.Garden.Be in nature.Play board games.Exercise.

Let’s do our best to connect and support the young and young at heart. It is magic for both audiences to spend time together. This enchanting time allows us to enrich our lives and those who we love. A senior mentor makes time, keeps faith, shares wisdom, shows patience, gives joy and lives love.

Laura Nissen is a dementia specialist for Luther Manor Communities in Dubuque.

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