Like many things in life that have changed over the years, so has the nature of our relationships. Older adults are living longer and healthier lives than in the past, which has opened up more opportunities to cultivate and foster intergenerational relationships between older adults, parents, adult children, grand children, and even great-grandchildren.
Our relationships have a profound influence on our holistic wellness, and investing in intergenerational relationships provides great long-term benefits. Not only do intergenerational relationships bring families together, but they strengthen communities too. With intergenerational relationships, there is a certain reciprocity between each generation that supports wellness of the body, mind, and spirit for everyone involved.
Helps Broaden Our Perspectives
It’s natural that we spend much of our time with people around our age. Many of our friends come from age-related rights of passage that group us together to experience milestones together. When we surround ourselves with people with different life experiences due to being at different phases in life, we open ourselves up to greater insights on what life is like outside our own current experience. Intergenerational perspectives provide different perspectives and life experiences that enrich and broaden our understanding of life.
Challenges the Ways We Approach Wellness
Intergenerational relationships, especially friendships that have formed outside of our family units, also present opportunities to consider or reconsider new ways of life and living. Many of our habits and lifestyle choices stem from the examples we see around us. By having fresh and contrasting perspectives present in our lives, intergenerational relationships encourage experimenting new ways of life to improve our wellness that is informed by other people’s personal experiences that are different than our own.
Helps Us Understand Our Own Behaviours
The way we communicate with people of different ages is usually different. The way we talk to a grandmother is different than how we would talk to a younger sister. Intergenerational relationships can help us reflect on the ways we communicate with various family members that can both strengthen our emotional health and allow us to better understand our own behaviours. We can ask ourselves: why do we behave differently with various family members of different ages? What does this say about the way we feel about them and ourselves? When we start noticing and reflecting on our behaviours, we can find a greater understanding of ourselves and how we chose to treat others.
Encourages Learning From Each Other
While building intergenerational relationships helps us develop more well rounded perspectives, the learning process doesn’t end there. Intergenerational relationships encourage us to not only be open to new perspectives, but to be open to learn from each other. We can learn new tips and tricks from the hobbies and passions we share in common, learn about topics we are unfamiliar with, and we can even learn new skills together. Investing in intergenerational relationships provides a give and take to learn and grow.[caption id="attachment_231790" align="alignnone" width="300"] Tyler Olson / Shutterstock[/caption]
Like all types of relationships, intergenerational relationships require time, attention, and cultivation. Making that first step, first connection, and bond may seem daunting, but it doesn't have to be. Stay open, reach out to relatives to spend time with them, or even leverage lifelong activities and community involvement to meet new people of all ages that share your passions. Before you know it, you’ll have a better understanding of your own holistic wellness from the outside in.
Written by Eleni Zaptses
Pomp and Sass’s woven towels are lightweight, absorbent, and get softer over time.