Interaction with peers may be the reason many seniors choose assisted living: after a spouse dies, after the family has moved away, after the neighborhood changes from old and dear friends to new couples or young families too busy to stop and say hello. Connecting with those of similar ages and stages of life can bring comfort; craving socialization is indeed a valid basis for making this life transition. But that doesn’t mean seniors only want to be among other seniors, nor should they.
While hard research on the subject is still limited, though emerging, anecdotal evidence strongly supports the benefits of intergenerational interactions in assisted living and other senior care facilities. The growing number and increasing popularity of senior living communities who partner with colleges and integrate day care programs proves this is so. Given the benefits to all involved, many providers are seeking more ways to mesh the generations.
Seeing preschoolers in Halloween costumes, listening to teenagers sing Christmas carols, talking to an elementary student about what they want to be when they grow up, tutoring a young staff member who wants to improve her writing skills – these kinds of interactions bring joy to seniors, many of whom may be experiencing grief, depression, or loneliness (which is still possible even among peers).
Check out our Grandparents & Intergenerational Activities Resource Guide for ideas and insights on these important connections.