By Lisa Conway, RN, CCM & Barbara Fradkin, BSW, CCM
Lisa Conway is a Registered Nurse and a Certified Care Manager for Senior Partner Care Services, Viera. Barbara Fradkin is a Social Worker, Certified Care Manager and the Director of One Senior Place- Brevard/Space Coast.
Everyone needs companionship. And after the year we’ve had, reconnecting with others is really important –especially for our seniors. Many have experienced traumatizing isolation, unable to see their loved ones for a prolonged period. The senior centers have been closed and normal daily activities halted. Now that things are opening up again, it is time to venture out, find our “new normal” and reengage with friends and family.
September is Intergenerational Awareness Month, a global movement celebrating the many benefits of relationships between adults aged 60+ and younger people. Why is that important? Because generations have so much to learn from each other!
In Florida, approximately 250 senior centers are visited by 380,000 seniors annually. Partnering with schools and civic organizations, many offer intergenerational projects to share experiences, skills and knowledge that are reciprocally beneficial and foster positive long-term relationships.
In the past, generations of the same family lived together. Grandchildren grew up with their elders. There was storytelling, shared responsibilities, cooking together and eating together. Separated by distance, this type of natural interaction is harder to achieve. But we can still do it.
So, how can you observe Intergenerational Awareness Month?
- Visit or volunteer at a retirement home– Residents love visitors (and playing cards or games)! The smile of a child or young adult can change their world.
- Join a Big Brothers/Big Sisters program- This offers opportunities to connect with younger generations, helping at-risk kids navigate their lives.
- Call your mother or grandmother– If you are lucky enough to still have them in your life, make it a point to reconnect. Learn about your ancestors and where you came from.
- Visit a memory care or assisted living community. Most of them will have a garden, where you can visit with seniors. Playing in the dirt is a great conversation starter.
- Make a family meal together. Share recipes and involve the children in making family specialties. Then sit down and eat together. For seniors, there is nothing better than a nutritious meal shared with family.
- Volunteer as a family– Make a difference in your community with an experience that teaches life lessons.
No matter what you do, find someone of another generation to share it with. Our seniors are able teach us so much about life; they have many stories to tell and we are never too old or too young to learn.
One Senior Place is a marketplace for resources and provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their families. Questions for this column are answered by professionals in nursing, social work, care management and in-home care. Send questions to askOSP@OneSeniorPlace.com, call 321-751-6771 or visit One Senior Place, The Experts in Aging.