By JoAnn Jordan, Blogger of the Month for September
Finding points to connect with other generations is something each of us needs to be doing. It can be as simple a sharing a story or sitting around a dinner table. The age of the initiator isn’t important. Rather, it is the connecting and engaging that counts.
Back in the old days, aging parents lived with or near their children. The generations had a network of mutual support. While there are exceptions, over the years our society has moved away from this.
Anthropologist Margaret Mead stated, “A society that cuts off older people from meaningful contact with children … is greatly endangered. In the presence of grandparents and grandchildren, past and future merge into the present.”
My experiences with my grandparents and my great-grandparents are a testimony to this. The good news is my work experiences demonstrate the blood relationship is not required for this to happen.
In the mid-1990s I was activity director for a nursing home that was located across the street from an elementary school. Together with facility staff and classroom teachers, I developed an intergenerational program for third through fifth grades. It was an interactive program providing lots of personal attention for residents and students.
One day a teacher pointed out a student, fully engaging a resident in conversation. She said the young man struggled in the classroom but shined brightly in this program. It had become a new way for her to see him and for her to assist him in applying skills to the classroom.
Intergenerational programs continue to be important in my work. In Hays I offer Music Sparks Sharing, which links preschoolers with residents of an assisted living facility. Others are encouraged to create similar offerings through the ideas shared on my blog.
It is more than worth your time to connect yourself and those around you with other generations. A teen can help a grandparent or grandfriend locate a favorite old song on YouTube. An older adult can read a story to a preschooler. Ages can get together to carve pumpkins, assemble food baskets, or to sing songs.
As beautifully stated by Albert Einstein, we can “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.” Let’s work together to connect the generations.
As a board certified music therapist, JoAnn provides music therapy and enrichment services for older adults and preschoolers in and around Hays, Kansas. She is known for the vibrant connections she delivers through intergenerational programs. You can access her engaging caregiver resources on her blog, Music Sparks.