social care Wellbeing

Connecting generations

Shaleeza Hasham, Founder and CEO of intergenerational charity, Adopt a Grandparent

The transformative power of intergenerational connections in social care Shaleeza Hasham, Founder and CEO of intergenerational charity, Adopt a Grandparent, discusses the transformative power of intergenerational connections in social care.

Intergenerational initiatives can have a significant impact on both younger and older generations. As the founder of Adopt a Grandparent, I have witnessed first hand how these connections can transform lives and break down taboos surrounding social care.

Bridging Generations

At Adopt a Grandparent, we are facilitating thousands of connections between younger volunteers and older adults in care homes. These interactions are not merely about keeping older people company; they create bonds that are deeply enriching for both parties. Through regular interactions — phone calls and video chats — young volunteers and older adults develop friendships based on mutual respect and shared interests. This connection helps to bridge the generational gap, bringing new energy and perspectives into the lives of older people, while offering the young invaluable life lessons and experiences.

Challenging Social Taboos

Social care, especially for older people, is often surrounded by misconceptions and negative stereotypes. Many people view care homes as places of decline and isolation, but intergenerational programmes like ours challenge these perceptions. By facilitating regular interactions between young volunteers and older adults, we highlight the vibrancy and wisdom that older people bring to our communities. These relationships show that ageing can be a time of active engagement and personal growth, helping to shift societal attitudes towards a more positive and respectful understanding of ageing.

Personal Stories of Impact

The impact of these intergenerational connections is best illustrated through personal stories. For instance, Jenny, a young volunteer, was paired with Gay, an elderly lady living with dementia. Through their regular interactions, Gay rekindled her engagement with the world around her, experiencing a noticeable improvement in her mood and cognitive function. Gay, who had no short-term recall, started to recognise and remember Jenny after just five calls. For Jenny, the experience provided a new perspective on life, deepening her empathy and understanding of the ageing process.

Another example is the bond formed between Ruby Rose, an actor, and Iris, an 87-year-old movie enthusiast. Their weekly conversations and shared love for films brought immense joy to Iris, who often spoke of Ruby’s calls as the highlight of her week. These stories are just a glimpse into the countless meaningful relationships that have been formed through our programme.

Transformative Effects on Wellbeing

Research consistently shows that regular, meaningful social interactions can significantly improve the mental and physical wellbeing of older adults – not only supporting cognitive function but also mobility. Loneliness is a major issue among the elderly, with many experiencing chronic isolation that can lead to depression, cognitive decline, and other health problems. Intergenerational programmes provide a vital lifeline, offering companionship and a sense of purpose. For the younger participants, these interactions enhance their social skills, empathy, and emotional intelligence, preparing them for more compassionate and inclusive futures.

Broader Societal Benefits

The benefits of intergenerational programmes extend beyond the individuals involved, fostering broader social cohesion. By encouraging relationships between different age groups, we promote a culture of mutual care and respect that is essential for a cohesive society. These programmes help cultivate a community ethos where every member is valued, regardless of age, and where empathy and understanding flourish.

Furthermore, such initiatives can have a ripple effect, influencing how society views and treats its elderly members. When younger generations regularly interact with and learn from older adults, they are more likely to advocate for better policies and practices in elder care. This can lead to a more supportive and inclusive environment for everyone, reinforcing the social fabric against the challenges of modern society.

Conclusion

Intergenerational programmes demonstrate the meaningful impact that activities can have in social care. By connecting younger and older generations, we not only combat loneliness and isolation but also create a deeper understanding and appreciation of the ageing process. These relationships enrich lives on both sides, proving that at every stage of life, people can contribute to and benefit from deeper social connections. As we continue to build and support these connections, we move closer to a society where empathy, respect, and mutual care are the norms.

@AdoptAGrandp

adoptagrandparent.org.uk

 

Kirsty

Email Newsletter

Twitter