Sometimes Grandparents or older adults might feel daunted about spending time with energy-packed little one’s. Our elders avoid younger generation’s more than ever before, and vice versa, which is detrimental to both age groups. But intergenerational activities are actually good for you, according to the Health Aging Partnership, a coalition of 40 Puget Sound area not-for-profit organizations dedicated to the health and well-being of older adults. And it can be easy and fun!
Interactions with young people allow older adults to relate to another generation, learn about new technology and trends and serve as good role models for children growing into tomorrow’s adults. The excitement of seeing the world through younger eyes can get older adults ‘up and doing,’ reducing depression, relieving boredom and improving health.
Youngsters benefit too! In situations where adult attention may be lacking, the attention and example provided by a senior mentor can be invaluable, HAP notes. Even teens who have difficulty relating to their immediate families may respond well to a caring older adult and see them as a confidant.
The Healthy Aging Partnership offers these suggestions for grandparents and others who want to play a bigger role in young lives:
• Be yourself. Youngsters will benefit from and enjoy having someone who listens and gives them their undivided attention. All too often parents don’t have enough time to spend with their children and that’s where you can help. Be a mentor and a friend.
• Arts and crafts, such as making a scrapbook, create great memories and allow you and a child to learn something new together and have fun!
Youngsters love to help in the kitchen. The hands-on cooking exercise can be as simple as baking a box cake, with a little measuring and mixing.
• Gardening is another kid favorite. Dig in the dirt. Plant. Water. Sow fast-sprouting bean, pumpkin or sunflower seeds that grow with every visit. Time outside is healthy in itself for the mind, body, and spirit.
• Go to the library. Computers and video games may be the new thing, but you can never go wrong with a great story. Teach them about something you love. If you’re excited about it, they will be too.
• If you don’t have grandchildren of your own, volunteer to share an interest or skill with a local youth organization. The American Red Cross, Intergenerational Innovations and Big Brothers, Big Sisters, just to name a few, can help connect older adults with young people in their community. Here’s another resource to help kids: http://changingkids.com/
For more information on intergenerational activities or other issues related to life as an older adult, call 1-888-4ELDERS (1-888-435-3377) or visit www.4elders.org. The free and confidential resource line offers a wealth of information and assistance to seniors and their caregivers!
Chipper and his friends help educate the younger generations not only to be environmental stewards for the future, but also to help older generation with their hands in many ways in our latest book, Helping Hands. By positively reinforcing the good that comes when we all work together, children will be ready to lend their hands and hearts around the home, school, and community. Get Chipper today with your elders!