In my earlier write-up, I have mentioned how interactions between younger kids and the elderly are co-beneficial to both generations. Here, I would like to talk about the intergenerational interactions of older children, say teenagers and young adults.

Many schools are encouraging students to undertake social volunteering and complete community hours as part of their course. At Epoch, we had Class VIII-XII students from various schools come to our homes and participate in activities and celebrations with our elderly residents. They come to play music, sing songs, partner on a board game, conduct group games, or simply sit and chat. During initial requests, my team and I were a little unsure about teenagers having the sensitivity (or patience) to interact with our elders but turns out some of them truly enjoy these visits. Grandparents after all share a very different equation with grandkids and that is what gets effortlessly recreated during these interactions.

What it also does is build sensitivity about aging and it’s issues and highlights the role of professional care in chronic conditions. We have heard children exclaim that ‘oh we didn't know that assisted living homes could be like this!’. They go back and relay stories- thus in a small way normalizing moving elders to a care home.

When at Epoch we were offering Home Care services (in 2012), trained youngsters of our team would provide intellectual companionship to elders in their own homes. The elders started to build a rapport with our young team members and really started looking forward to these visits. Friendships ran deep and meaningful. Due to this bond of understanding and comfortable rapport, our elders were much more open to experimenting and trying out new things. They agreed to do many activities, which they may have never done in the past such as playing a musical instrument, or putting beads in their hair, or painting their nails red! 

Globally, the trend of young students and first jobbers staying within the complex of Senior Care Homes or Retirement Communities is growing. It is a quid-pro-quo. The youngsters stay in the complex for free, or at subsidized rates. In return, they interact with the elderly, have conversations with them, get to know the elders better whilst having breakfast or dining together. In some cases, students who are learning music give a cello (or any other instrument) recitals for the residents of these elder care communities. They land up developing special long-lasting bonds with some of the elders who have played or learned music in their younger days. Both these age segments mutually fulfill each other’s social and emotional needs seamlessly; since both are away from their families. Countries such as the USA, Belgium, and Sweden have these interactive programs for many years.
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