Love Beyond Time: Nurturing Intergenerational Bonds

A grandfather stands in the kitchen with his grandson making a fruit salad together.

In many cultures, the elder members of a family or group are revered beyond measure. This is due to their value as keepers of the traditions and stories.

Seniors can pass along their lifetime of experience and knowledge to the next generation through storytelling and related activities. Traditions, histories, and culture are a big part of defining who we are, and our older family members are some of the only ones with complete knowledge of such things.

In recent years, thanks in part to technology and information being readily at our fingertips, we are less inclined to look toward the elders to learn more about ourselves.

Bringing together seniors and youth allows the two groups to learn from each other and provide mutual support, togetherness, and love. There is a way for both groups to engage in a way that gives meaning and purpose in their lives.

How To Create These Bonds

While the many years between the two groups might seem like a barrier, it isn’t that much of a challenge if approached correctly. There are a variety of ways in which seniors and younger generations can come together on common ground.

Find Common Interests – No matter our age, we are likely to find things in common with others – this is something that young people don’t always consider when looking at their elders. After all, how could they possibly like the same things younger generations like? When looking at it from a grand scale, many common interests withstand age and time limitations.

Communicate Via a Variety of Mediums – One of the great things about being from different generations is finding that things you thought were exclusive to your group are actually universal. One way to discover this is to communicate from a variety of mediums, not just traditional ones. By participating in art, storytelling, field trips, and games, seniors and youths can discover they often understand similar experiences and emotions.

Encourage Collaboration – Any bond stems from the ability of two people or groups to come together for a common goal. This means it is a great way to jumpstart a bond between different generations. By having a common purpose, the differences between reluctant seniors and youths will slowly disappear, and all that will remain are the things that bring them closer together. Collaboration can also mark an opportunity for each group to teach the other about their own lived experiences.

Celebrate Differences and Diversity – Yes, commonalities are what bring people together. But, as stated before, intergenerational bonds can be the perfect opportunity for seniors and youths to learn from one another. Especially if the things each person has to teach stem from a perspective or life experience that is not likely to happen for the other person. Our diversity is what makes us each unique, and why it’s even more important for us to ensure our cultures and histories are explored.

Maintain Open Communication and Praise Accomplishments – Intergenerational bonding doesn’t come without its challenges. After all, seniors view the world in one way, while youths see it from a different lens. While we want you to celebrate your differences and acknowledge what makes you similar, we also know that a positive bond centered on this doesn’t come about right away. Therefore, keeping an open mind and taking the time to encourage each other is vital to the longevity of such bonds.

There are many reasons, some of which we’ve discussed above, to encourage such connections between the groups. Knowing and understanding the benefits of such bonds is also important to keep in mind.

Benefits of Intergenerational Bonding

Whenever we do something or participate in activities, there will be benefits. Regarding intergenerational bonding, there are benefits that occur for both groups and are worth exploring a bit more.

Benefits for Seniors

Increases Quality of Life – For many seniors, their loved ones are concerned they become lonely as they get older. When we encourage our senior loved ones to interact and participate in activities with younger individuals, we can help ensure that loneliness doesn’t occur. As explained below, the energy and passion a young person exudes can be motivational and life-changing. Seniors might find themselves loving life and enjoying themselves that much more after such interactions.

Energizes – There is something so transferable about energies between individuals who have come together to hang out. Often, when people talk about a get-together, they explain how the energy of the people involved affected the success of the event. The same goes for seniors and younger people. Youth have an energy about them that is infectious and motivating.

Teaches New Skills – One benefit of time is that we, as a society, learn how to handle new things and obtain new skills. These new skills sometimes pass over seniors naturally because they aren’t something they need to live their everyday lives. By connecting with the younger generation, our elders can experience these new skills for themselves.

Life Experiences Shared – Seniors can sometimes find themselves out of touch with more current life experiences. Connecting them with youths will allow them to see how young people interact with the world around them. It might even show seniors that some experiences are universal despite the changing times.

A chart of the benefits for seniors and youths about intergenerational bonding.

Benefits for Young People

Keeps History Alive – As previously mentioned, elders within a community or culture are usually seen as the keepers of history and traditions. This makes them so crucial to the development of a young mind. Knowing who we are and where we come from determines how we move through the world. By spending time with seniors, we allow them to convey such histories to us for us to keep.

Learn New Skills – Just like with seniors, hanging out with an older generation will allow young people to learn something new. There are skills that younger generations have stopped being taught, either because growing technology is making the skill obsolete or because it’s something that isn’t necessary for everyday life anymore. These skills will disappear into the hands of time if we don’t encourage young people to learn them from their elders.

Reduces Misconceptions About Aging – We all fear what we don’t know. Young people’s misconceptions about aging and fear of getting older come from not knowing or understanding what aging really means. Spending quality time with someone older will allow these young people to see that getting older should be respected and celebrated. It shows a life well lived and loved.

More Undivided Attention – In today’s world, many young people miss out on lengthy, quality time with their parents due to demands at work and home. Connecting younger generations with seniors gives them a part of their day in which they get the attention and focus they need and deserve. Grandparents are a great way to give your children the loving family connection they need. Also, by gaining this attention, youths are less likely to participate in actions that could get them into trouble.

Get Back to Human Connection

Ultimately, it comes down to this: human connection. We all want to feel part of something. As we age, that connection tends to taper off a bit, and we lose sight of our communities and cultures.

Encouraging our youths and seniors to spend time together in meaningful ways will ensure that these connections won’t be lost. No one deserves to be alone, and everyone deserves to know where they came from.

Creating a bond between generations prevents adverse effects on the lives of people separated from each other. The best way to start is with a conversation. Conversations lead to actions and further exploration, which leads to learning and, ultimately, love.

If you have questions about how you can get started with intergenerational bonding, contact us. Accessible is always here to help bridge the gap between you and your loved ones.