In what ways can all generations engage and participate in a conversation and dialogue about greater longevity and a vibrant later life? An excellent start is to foster inter-generational relationships with intent, harness the power of inter-generational bonds and interactions, something that is largely untapped. Research indicates that these as perspectives, experiences and interactions are not commonly engaged in either direction – older to younger or younger to older.
One part of the Age Friendly Communities initiative needs to be to encourage and cultivate non-familial inter-generational interactions. Where are the best places to seek out inter-generational interactions?
Here are the five top places and spaces for inter-generational connections to thrive. These are through:
• volunteer and service work, as individuals from different generations contribute their time to the same cause or issue in the community
• the workplace, where individuals from different generations work, converse and solve problems together
• associations with neighbours when interacting with people living in the neighbourhood
• the broader community where individuals meet and speak with others as they engage in daily activities and daily interactions, living their lives; and
• learning and educational institutions, especially as inter-generational learning becomes more prevalent such as in the Sociology of Aging course I taught at York University
If the generations engage more readily in these five top places then the trigger questions for success are – how can dialogue and conversations be encouraged on meaningful issues of mutual concern? How can outward facing messages be stimulated that engage all ages in conversation, so that everyone benefits?
The top tip for strengthening inter-generational interactions is to encourage good listening skills. In this way, each individual will hear better across generations. Everyone is valued and respected. This is an excellent beginning and an excellent way to develop better inter-generational relationships.
It is also a great way to continue our vibrant Seniors’ Summer!