When was the last time you had a meaningful conversation with someone from a different generation? Not often for most older adults. We feel more comfortable with those who grew up during the same time as us and share similar experiences and now memories. My generation lived through the soul searching controversies of the Vietnam War and Watergate. And was anyone at Woodstock? But don’t ask me about Instagram or Snapchat; or the Squid Game or The Walking Dead. (Okay, I have heard of Kim Kardashian but I have no idea why she is such a media star!)
We divide up into our corners: schools and youth activities for the young and retirement communities and senior centers for older people. But there are reasons to bridge these generational divides.
A study by the non-profit Generations United, emphasizes the importance of intergenerational connections. “…participation in intergenerational programs and meaningful cross-age relationships may decrease social isolation and increase older adults’ sense of belonging, self-esteem, and well-being, while also improving social and emotional skills of children and youth participants.”
Intergenerational connections and relationships can also help generations value and respect each other; breaking down stereotypes of both older adults and the younger generations.
On the “Better Health While Aging” website, Leslie Kernisan, MD, interviewed Kerry Byrne, Ph.D., an aging and family caregiving expert, about the value of intergenerational connections and five ways to foster more of them.
1. Set a resolution to connect. Establish a goal for how often you will connect with someone from a different generation. Brainstorm a few ways to do this, and then pick one and commit to it.
2. Get involved in an intergenerational initiative in your community. For example, many schools welcome grandparents or older adults as volunteers in the classroom such as the Smart Reading Program.
3. Make efforts to strike up conversations with someone from a different generation. Learn something new from a different perspective. And remember to listen. It might even remind you of all the “I can’t believe I ever did that” mistakes you’ve made.
4. Interview someone from a different generation in your family. Showing an interest in what they like and what they care about be special for both of you. To get you started you can download the app StoryCorps on your phone or tablet.
5. Plan a trip with a member of your family from a different generation. Some grandparents take their grandchildren on a trip when they turn 10 to mark the first decade of life.
And I would add, play a game together. Learn how to play one of their favorite video games. And then teach them your favorite card game – pinochle or maybe Texas Hold’em?
An example of generations connecting is this week’s “Through the Eyes of an Elder” where two young women, Eleanor Buser and Stella Streeter both students at Hood River New School, interviewed Doña Toña’s and tell her story of emigrating from Mexico and becoming a Promotora de Salud (health promoter) for The Next Door.
Brain Tease: This is a tough one! What do the following words have in common?
Feminine, kindergarten, canine, overweight, threaten, cobblestone, height, done.
I’ll give a hint after the “Remember When” question.
The name of the Western television series starring James Garner as a poker player working the riverboats and saloons through the American frontier was Maverick. I received correct answers from Chuck Rice, who I missed last week, Doug Nelson, Jay Waterbury, Lana Tepfer, Kim Birge, Donna Mollett, Nancy Higgins, Tina Castanares, and Bruce Johnson this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket.
Walt Disney was a great influence during my youth, and I still remember the advice this Disney character gave Pinocchio: “Always let your conscience be your guide”. For this week’s “Remember When” question, who was this comical, wisecracking character wearing a top hat and carrying an umbrella who accompanies Pinocchio while serving as his official conscience? Email your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org, call 541-296-4788, or send it with the original version of “When You Wish Upon a Star”.
Brain Tease Hint: You might find the answer in the end.
Well, it’s been another week, trying to do all that needs to be done. Until we meet again, embrace and relish the unexpected.
“Happiness often sneaks in through the door you didn’t know you left open.” John Barrymore
Nutritious home-delivered and in-person meals are available at noon Monday through Friday unless otherwise noted.
Seniors of Mosier Valley (541-980-1157) – Mondays and Wednesdays; Hood River
Valley Adult Center (541-386-2060); Sherman County Senior and Community Center
(541-565-3191); The Dalles Meals-on-Wheels (541-298-8333)
For meal sites in Washington, call Klickitat County Senior Services – Goldendale office
(509-773-3757) or the White Salmon office (509-493-3068); Skamania County Senior
Answer: They all end with the spelling of a number.