Children Spreading Joy at the Senior Center
"For children and teens, there are countless ways to create social interaction. However, does your family make time for seniors in your life a priority? If not, they're missing out" (Benefits of seniors and young children spending time together 2021). The aging generation in your community is also missing out. Partially due to COVID, multigenerational living and intergenerational engagement are here to stay. Maybe in some cases, COVID has been a blessing. As a result of COVID, more grandparents care for and educate their grandchildren than ever before. Today 80% of older adults are considering moving closer to their families.
The reality is that many elders can't move close to their families, and others do not have relationships with their grandchildren or younger generations.
What can we do to become a part of the solution? A local young woman in my community named Jennie (no relation) knows the answer and is making a difference. Several weeks ago, she called the local Senior Center and asked if she could bring the children she cares for to the senior center to tour the facility and better understand what seniors do. She also asked if the children could do anything to help or volunteer.
What an example! Jennie taught the children the dignity of everyday life surrounded with respect and value for all ages. Her actions would improve the comfort and confidence of the children's interactions with older adults. Equally as important, children who participate in such activities learn how to age gracefully themselves.
Now, Jennie brings the children for weekly visits. All parties look forward to their smiling faces. Last week she and the children she cares for came in smiling, holding balloons with a piece of candy attached with a coupon for healthy Smoothies. How creative, thoughtful and powerful bringing the generations together. "Engaging with Aging." Thank you, Jennie, for getting the basics right, showing the children how to do it, and allowing them the experience. I share this story for many reasons. One is to thank Jennie and the children for visiting the senior center and participating in selected events with the aging population. The other reason is to encourage each of you, regardless of age, to participate in a program featuring selected intergenerational activities throughout the year to enable ageless engagement. Are you ready?
This is one of a series of new 2022 blogs about Communities Engaging with Aging.