Intergenerational Care

Intergenerational programs are defined by Generations United as “social vehicles that offer younger and older generations the opportunities to interact and become engaged in issues concerning our society”. Intergenerational programming provides unique opportunities for both young and old participants to learn about one another and engage with novel skills and topics.

Benefits for Senior Citizens 

Intergenerational programming has shown a multitude of benefits for older adults. Intergenerational programs have been associated with improved mental health for older adults, with positive impacts on level of depression and isolation. Intergenerational programs also showed marked increases in reported quality of life for senior citizens. These programs allow seniors to feel like they matter, like they are an active part of the community. The value of this connection cannot be understated.

Benefits for Children 

These programs provide a multitude of benefits for children, as well. Children who have early contact with older generations show decreased levels of ageism, enhanced social and personal development, feel more comfortable around individuals with disabilities and impairment, have improved academic performance, and have an opportunity to engage with individuals who can be good role models. These benefits do not apply merely to one place in time for the children, either; these interactions provide the seeds for a lifetime of more civic-minded, open, and engaged individuals. These benefits are rare to find in a childcare setting, and the innovation of intergenerational programs could be a key pillar in a new paradigm of community-minded childcare.

In the words of one second grader:

“It is good to spend time with older adults. You can teach them, they can teach you”

Intergenerational programming cannot solve all the problems which exist for the children and seniors of the country. But it can bridge the gap between them; these programs allow individuals from different places and times, with different outlooks on life, to engage and learn from one another. It is a process of genuine connection that leaves both sides better off.

Columbus is emerging as a leader in this field, thanks to an innovative partnership between Ohio State University and a variety of local community members. The Champion Intergenerational Center, the fruits of this agreement, hopes to provide high quality intergenerational programming for all who enroll.