Some residents of Asbury Methodist Village in Gaithersburg, MD, have teamed up with a nonprofit organization that serves immigrant and Muslim youth to launch a series of “Courageous Conversations” between elders who faced discrimination in the past and kids who are facing it now.
Residents of Longview, an upstate New York independent and assisted living community founded in partnership with Ithaca College, enjoy on-site performances by college student musicians and dancers, share their life stories with history and journalism majors, discuss the aging process with gerontology scholars, and are treated by budding physical, occupational, recreational and speech therapists. Residents also use the college’s pool and library, attend plays and other events on campus, and audit college courses.
In California’s San Diego County, a group of approximately 10 older adults pay a below-market rate to live on the campus of San Pasqual Academy, a boarding school for foster teens. In exchange, they collaborate with students on art projects; take them to museums, plays and other events off campus; and are involved with them in other ways.
These are just three of the examples of intergenerational relationships presented in a new report by Generations United and the Eisner Foundation.
Such relationships have benefits for older adults, younger people and society in general, according to the authors of “I Need You, You Need Me: The Young, The Old, and What We Can Achieve Together.”
An online survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults conducted by Harris Poll on the organizations’ behalf found that 93% of U.S. adults believe that children and youth benefit from building relationships with older adults, and 91% agree that older adults benefit from these relationships. The survey also found that 78% of adults think that the federal government should invest in programs that bring together younger and older Americans.
To encourage such relationships, the report authors recommend that retirement community residents think about challenges faced by nearby children and how they could help. They also suggest that members of Congress be lobbied to amend the Older Americans Act and Housing for Older Persons Act, which fund senior centers and seniors housing complexes, to encourage intergenerational programs.
“There are already provisions in the Older Americans Act to stimulate the development of shared sites, but these provisions haven’t been sufficiently funded,” they wrote. “Congress should also support the Social Innovation Fund of the Corporation for National and Community Service, which finances cost-effective, evidence-based volunteer programs around the country.”