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5 Reasons Why Everyone Should Make Friends with The Older Generation

September 30th, 2021

1st October 2021 is International Older Persons Day. This is an opportunity to celebrate the lives of the older generation and reflect upon everything they have accomplished and contributed to society – from the little things to the life changing. What better way to celebrate the older generation than by celebrating the positive impact cross-generational friendships can bring to our lives. 

In this post, we will focus on reasons why we should make friends with the older generation and the benefits this can bring to everyone involved.

The Benefits of an Active Social Life 

We have all heard the saying that ‘laughter is the best medicine’, many of us know that this can be true in many cases. The main reason is because we usually share these funny moments with other people. 

No matter what our age, maintaining an active social life and making new friends is so important for our overall health. Spending time with people you love and respect affects our happiness and can relieve a massive amount of stress. When paired with other healthy habits such as eating well and staying fit, socialising frequently can help us all keep cognitively active and improve our memory.

Nurturing strong social bonds isn’t just good for our mental health though, it also improves our physical health too. Research shows that reduced stress also reduces the likelihood of heart disease, strokes, and diabetes. 

Reasons to Nurture Strong Relationships with Elderly People

Cross-generational friendships are enlightening for both sides. From simply making strong social bonds to giving us important life lessons, there are a whole host of reasons to make friends with people from different generations. Older people can teach us life lessons which will impact our resilience, confidence, and empathy. Some more reasons to make friends with elderly people include: 

1. The older generation can pass on their life lessons and experiences

Older people have generally been through a lot. In other words, they have ‘been there and got the tshirt’. They have had children, gotten married, and they may have experienced living through a war. Their lives have been full of positive and negative experiences and not to mention, they have done some very interesting things that the younger generation simply couldn’t imagine. Learning about these experiences can teach younger generations a lot about resilience, hard work, and confidence. Listening to their stories will also help them reminisce about times gone by.

2. You and and your elderly companion can both learn a lot 

Both sides will get some interesting cultural lessons that they simply wouldn’t learn from peers in their own age group. Everything from music and art to literature and film, you’ll learn a lot about the kind of culture that shaped their perceptions and you can teach them more about modern culture too.  

3. You and the elderly can share similar interests 

Maybe you like playing a musical instrument or you enjoy being creative and making art? People across different ages can share the same interests and enjoy them together. Not only that, but you can also take it a step further and learn a new hobby or skill from the older generation or you can teach them something new. 

4. You are able to gain a different perspective by listening to the older generation

As we grow older our opinions and perceptions change a lot. In fact, they are changing all the time and this is a positive thing because it allows us to be open minded and receptive to different ways of doing things. We all have perceptions and stereotypes, so why not challenge them by speaking to people with different ways of thinking? 

5. You might help an older person feel more connected to the world

Everyone can experience loneliness, but it is particularly prominent in elderly people. Keeping in regular contact with elderly friends can help alleviate any feelings of isolation. The use of technology has contributed to this too, it is always on the rise and people who were around before the rise of technology can sometimes feel quite lost. This is an opportunity for the younger generation to teach the older people in their lives to navigate the digital world, or atleast help them when they need to use technology in their daily lives.

How to Make Friends with the Older Generation

Many of us have someone in the family who is part of the older generation: our grandparents or great aunties and uncles. Therefore, we can look to our family when developing strong friendships with older people. We can also look beyond our family circle. 

Some ideas for making friends with older people include: 

  • joining a community group or sports club

This is a great way to do something you enjoy and meet new people. Joining groups like an art and crafts club, a chess club, or a class at the gym is a great way to meet people who are of different ages. If you’re religious, visiting your local church and sticking around afterwards for refreshments is also a brilliant way to make friends.

  • volunteering with charities that help the older generation

There are many charities out there that enable people to offer support to the older generation. One of the most prevalent charities is Age UK. You can volunteer with these charities to provide support and companionship for an older person who would otherwise be in isolation. Volunteering has incredible benefits; it can improve your social skills whilst improving the wellbeing of an older person in need.

  • looking out for older people in your neighbourhood.

Maybe you have a next door neighbour who is elderly and lives alone? Giving a helping hand is a great way to establish a friendship. Next time you’re going shopping you could offer to get them a few things. If they struggle to get around and have a dog, why not offer to take it on a little stroll?

Nurturing Cross-Generational Relationships is Built into our Care Philosophy

We are committed to encouraging our residents to develop strong relationships with their family members and friends, as well as, giving them the opportunity to make new friends all the time. Actively encouraging our residents to develop relationships is part of our care philosophy and we do this by providing activities such as games and interactive sessions with the local community. 

One way we champion different age groups to forge strong connections is by using the ‘Magic Table’. We are aware that it can be challenging for people living with dementia to create relationships, which is where the Magic Table comes in. Our Magic Table uses projections, sounds, and sensors to display games and activities that our residents living with dementia can interact with. We encourage residents and their relatives alike to play freely, this is a particularly useful opportunity for children to experience positive play with their older relatives.