Generations Apart

By: Samantha Payne
December 04, 2012

The gap between seniors and youth has increased. Statistics Canada predicts, “the number of seniors in Canada to increase from 4.2 million to 9.8 million between 2005 and 2036.” That’s more than double causing society to grown further apart, shrinking the number of those middle aged.

“I definitely see the gap both personally and professionally,” says Jeff Gruchy, Healthier Living Centre Supervisor of Downsview Services for Seniors.
“There is little to no interaction unless it is set up for them.”

Gruchy has previously facilitated intergenerational activities including a walking club in which students, from schools in neighboring areas, join seniors for a stroll. Programs like these encourage interaction and healthy living.
Valerie Bennett couldn’t agree more. Now a life style consultant with Rayoak Place by Revera, Bennett has worked with schools to encourage youth and seniors to get involved with one another. Many of her residences could attest to their experience.

“You could hear the children and seniors from down the halls getting excited about their card games,” says Bennett, “It was extremely successful.”

Bennett has organized several programs involving seniors and youth including reading buddies, music performances and games.

“One gentlemen never married or had children and he loved the programs. He was very proud to show and talk to the children about his life, where he lived and grew up, the pets he had etc. It was a very positive experience.”
Without interaction society looses history, traditions, understand and a sense of responsibility.
“When there is disconnect it effects decision making and creates a biased. We can learn from each other and it’s important not to place limitations. Youth can benefit from a seniors experience and seniors can learn new technologies from youth,” says Gruchy.

Bennett adds, “Interaction depends on the individuals. You can’t just spring it on [either one].”
“Both parties have to want to be there for a common purpose or a shared goal,” says Gruchy.

When it is evident that both generations are aware and curious there is a long list of activities that will entertain and start the connection including word games, cards and reading. These types of partnerships don’t need to happen on a large scale. For example, Bennett once encountered a mother whose daughters were part of one of the intergenerational programs. She expressed how happy she was to see her children spend time with a senior. It reminded her of how her daughters weren’t able to have the presence of a grandparent in their lives because her own parents lived abroad. It filled a shadow and her children were able to have a grandparent figure in their lives.

For more information on senior services or how to get involved contact Mosaic Home Care & Community Resource Centre. We can help you get in touch with the resources you need.