Here’s some good news for senior living operators that offer intergenerational programming: It helps reduce ageism when combined with education about the aging process and the misconceptions related to it.

That’s what a team of American and Canadian researchers found when analyzed 63 studies conducted between 1976 and 2018 with a total of 6,124 participants.

The result may not be surprising to those familiar with intergenerational efforts, but the researchers believe their study is the first so called meta-analysis of interventions that were designed to reduce ageist stereotypes and prejudice toward older adults.

“The most surprising thing was how well some of these programs worked,” said study co-author Karl Pillemer, Ph.D., of Cornell University and Weill Cornell Medicine. “If we teach people more about aging — if they’re less frightened of it, less negative about it and less uncomfortable interacting with older people — that helps.”

The study was published last month in the American Journal of Public Health.

More good news for the senior living profession: Intergenerational programs can be low-cost and easy to replicate, Pillemer said.

And perhaps the best news of all: “Our findings suggest that intervention research will lead to substantial progress in combating ageism and, in turn, improving the health and well-being of older people,” the researchers wrote.

That’s partly because the World Health Organization, which recruited the researchers to perform this research, will use the findings to develop an anti-ageism strategy and create a report on ageism. WHO has declared ageism the most socially acceptable prejudice on the planet, normalized even more than racism or sexism.

So the good news of the positive effects of intergenerational programming and education will spread to an even larger audience.