Oh my!

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By the year 2036, 40% of people over age 62 are projected to have assets of $25,000 or less, and 20% are expected to have $5,000 or less in assets, according to figures presented by Plante Moran Living Forward at the 2016 Senior Housing News Chicago Summit on July 14.

By 2040, the number of those age 85 and up is expected to triple to 14.6 million, meaning there will undoubtedly be a need for senior housing that’s more affordable for the middle-income population.

In conclusion, thanks to the Legacy Project

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Beyond Just Programs

The richest forms of human development are most available to those willing and able to interweave their needs and potential with the needs and potential of others, especially those younger or older.

The success of isolated intergenerational projects and programs across the country clearly demonstrates the significant benefits of intergenerational contact to both children and adults.

The challenge now lies in going beyond a project or program here or there to making a larger commitment to intergenerational connections so that they become a part of daily life and the social fabric.

Benefits to Children

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Research shows children need four to six involved, caring adults in their lives to fully develop emotionally and socially. The problem today is that children often get too much peer socialization, too much mediated contact through computers and texting, and not enough one-on-one, personal time with mature adults.

The benefits to children of a close, long-term connection with older adults include:

  • Through grandparents, children have a better sense of who they are and where they’ve come from. They have roots, a history, and a sense of continuity and perspective.

  • Intergenerational bonds need not be traditional or biological. Older adult mentors can make a significant difference in a child’s life. The involvement of a reliable, caring adult helps children develop life skills, and builds self-esteem and confidence. One study showed that when a child is mentored by an adult, they are: 46% less likely to begin using illegal drugs; 27% less likely to begin using alcohol; 52% less likely to skip school.

  • In general, children develop higher self-esteem, better emotional and social skills (including an ability to withstand peer pressure), and can even have better grades in school.

  • Children feel special. Especially with grandparents, children are “spoiled” a little. Research tells us that, in moderation, this can be a good thing. Children know that being with their grandparents is special. They don’t expect the rest of the world to treat them the way their grandparents do, so it’s really not “spoiling.” They experience an unconditional type of love that’s not easily found elsewhere.

  • Children can get undivided time and attention from an older adult that tired, busy parents often can’t give them.

  • An older adult can give children someone safe to talk with and confide in. While children may want to be different from their parents, they often don’t mind being like their grandparents or other older adults. This gives elders a lot of power and ability to influence a troubled or confused child.

  • Through sharing in an older adult’s interests, skills, and hobbies, children are introduced to new activities and ideas. Through their life experience, older adults can often bring with them a tremendous amount of patience. Knowledge, skills, and attitudes children pick up from elders tend to stick with them through life more than those picked up from other sources.

  • By getting to know “real, live old people” children look beyond the ageist stereotypes. They become more comfortable with aging – which is really something we all do from the moment we’re born. Children are also encouraged to look toward the whole of their lives. They have many models for adulthood, but far fewer for older adulthood. When they can see the whole of their lives, they are more motivated and see greater relevance between what they’re learning in school and their future. Research shows that “planful competence” – the ability to understand the life course and work toward goals – is key to student success in school and in life.

Intergenerational Centers create better communities

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If we can improve the standing of older adults in society, and nurture what they can bring through intergenerational connections, then we can achieve a better community with a better quality of life for all ages.

Historically, young and old connected naturally. Older people taught the young how to be and how to become. Close daily contact between the young and old was a matter of survival. Being with, watching after, and assisting in the care of young children, while demanding in many ways, does not require the full vigor of youth. The physical limitations that can come with getting older actually cement the relationship between old and young. An elder capable of working the land or building a house or strenuous cleaning would have less inclination to spend hours doting on grandchildren, telling them stories, and instructing them in the ways of their people. The physiological changes that accompany old age, which contemporary society looks upon with great disdain, can actually be useful preconditions for valuable intergenerational connections.

There is a back-and-forth reciprocity between all generations. Adults provide support to elders, most often to address health or physical limitations. Elders, in turn, assist adults through experience, emotional support, and participating in the care of children. Elders can help socialize children, teach them empathy and character, and give them an unconditional form of love they can’t find elsewhere. Children, in turn, can be an endless source of joy for elders, share affection and play, and provide assistance with many simple tasks. Children can participate in the work of adults, and provide enjoyment and love. Adults, in turn, provide food, shelter, clothing, and nurturance to children. And so a strong, healthy, intergenerational web of community goes.

Many older adults today are better educated, healthier, and more able than elders of past generations. They can clearly be a tremendous resource. But what about the oldest, frailest of the old? They can be our greatest teachers. They can certainly instruct us with words and stories of times past, and share a lifetime of accumulated wisdom. But what they truly help us learn about is the world and ourselves as they teach us with their very selves, their being. Elders can also teach us about the end of life, which informs the whole of our lives.

Connections between generations are essential for the mental health and stability of a nation.”

Beneifits of Intergenerational Connections

By Susan Bosak, The Legacy Project

In those at either end of the life course – the young and the old – you find striking similarities. We live in a society that values adulthood, and in turn doing – productivity and ongoing activity. The young and the old share a different rhythm. It’s one that focuses not only on doing, but on the power of being. It’s the simplicity of playing with blocks or tending to flowers. The young and the old are most closely connected with the essence of living. They can exist in a moment that’s the grand sum of past, present, and future. Rather than time being the enemy – rushing time or stressing to fit as much into time as possible – time becomes a comfortable companion, a circle rather than a line.

We divide up our communities and our activities by age – young people in schools, older people in retirement communities or facilities. We talk a lot about all the ways we need to help older people. But, perhaps, the old can help us. It’s the experience of life in a multigenerational, interdependent, richly complex community that, more than anything else, teaches us how to be human.

to be continued…….

 

 

 

 

 

Some more thoughts….

I learned a  lesson yesterday, on how challenging  caring for our elders are.  My 91 year old friend and I  had a lovely visit with my therapy dog and we just finished making plans to go out next week to celebrate our recent birthdays which are a week apart.

I had just helped her move from a wheel chair to a walker and she was fine, and still standing. I was moving the wheelchair out of the hallway when I heard her say, ‘I can’t unlock the break.’ In the exact moment that I turned to help her, she lost her balance and down she went, landing on me, which took both of us to the floor.  Things went from fine to trouble, in less than a second.

We pressed her button and help came. It took 3 med-techs to get her up.  What if she was living alone and lost her balance?

The lesson learned is that it only takes a second.