Contact: Lisa Sanders firstname.lastname@example.org 202-508-9407
Alan King email@example.com 202-777-0116
May 6, 2019, Washington DC — Whether it is a healthy cooking class, a 30-minute technology tutoring session, or a weekly “Learn to Knit” club, high-quality social activities that bring older adults and young people together in purposeful activities can have a powerful, positive impact on both seniors and youth. Benefits of participation in well-designed intergenerational programs and fostering cross-age relationships, research shows, include a decrease in social isolation among older adults and increased feelings of belonging, self-esteem and well-being. For young people, intergenerational experiences can help to improve behavior and academic performance, and increase self-esteem and empathy.
To promote the development and implementation of intergenerational programs, LeadingAge LTSS Center @UMass Boston in collaboration with Generations United, today releases the “Connecting Generations in Senior Housing: A Program Implementation Toolkit.”
This new 82-page toolkit provides step-by-step guidance for creating intergenerational programs that can be tailored to the needs of youth and older adult participants. Building on findings of an earlier report, “From Promise to Practice: Intergenerational Programming in Senior Housing,” and research snapshot the toolkit contains provides practical information and templates to help housing providers and leaders at other organizations to plan, develop, implement, evaluate and sustain intergenerational programs. All the work is funded by grants from the Retirement Research Foundation.
“Senior housing can be an ideal setting to test and build these valuable programs,” said Dr. Taryn Patterson, policy research associate, LeadingAge LTSSCenter@UMass Boston, who partnered with Generations United on the project. “In collaboration with LeadingAge members, we’ve developed an easy-to-use resources based on real-life experiences of providers and residents. Our goal is to ensure that intergenerational programming becomes a part of every housing community in the country, and that housing professionals are able to build a network for sharing experiences as well as provide support and encouragement.”
"Generations United is pleased to partner with LeadingAge to create this important resource," added Nancy Henkin, Ph.D., Senior Fellow, Generations United. “We are excited to see so much interest in intergenerational programming among senior housing providers and hope this tool will help foster meaningful interaction between older residents and young people in their community."
Drs. Patterson and Henkin partnered with staff at 6 national affordable housing providers, all LeadingAge members, who functioned as a learning collaborative. Over a 12 month period, each participant received technical assistance from the research team as well as from other participants, on planning, implementing and evaluating their intergenerational programs. Some examples include:
- Volunteers of America/Country View Multi-Family Apartments and Town Homes/Benton Harbor, MI: The resident service coordinator strove to create a sense of belonging for older and younger residents, and paths for building friendships and participating in social engagements; for kids, the coordinator aimed to provide a sense of community and opportunities to assume leadership roles. Activities include regular chess matches, technology education and games.
- Lutheran Senior Services/Vernon Heights/Lebanon, MO: Aiming to increase residents’ sense of purpose and help to decrease isolation, the service coordinator aligned with Lebanon Area Homeschoolers’ Association. Residents and youth connect during the day to participate in games, such as balloon volleyball, and educational experiences aligned with the homeschooling curriculua.
- HumanGood/Life’s Garden/Sunnyvale, CA: Life's Garden created a successful "teaching tech" program with two local high schools. They are now seeking to address residents' limited proficiency in English via a partnership with San Jose State focused on teaching English as a second language.
The next component of this project, now underway, involves webinars and in-person staff trainings at affordable housing organizations across the country, including HumanGood, Volunteers of America, the American Association of Service Coordinators and the American Society on Aging.
About the LeadingAge LTSSCenter @UMassBoston
The LeadingAge LTSS Center @UMass Boston conducts studies and evaluations that serve as a foundation for government and provider action to improve quality of care and quality of life for the most vulnerable older Americans. The LTSS Center, with offices in Washington, DC and Boston, MA, combines the resources of a major research university with the expertise and experience of applied researchers working with providers of long-term services and supports (LTSS). Established in 2017 by LeadingAge and the University of Massachusetts Boston, the LTSS Center builds on UMass Boston’s partnership with Community Catalyst, a national consumer health advocacy organization.
About Generations United
For three decades, Generations United has been the catalyst for policies and practices stimulating cooperation and collaboration among generations, evoking the vibrancy, energy and sheer productivity that result when people of all ages comes together. We believe that we can only be successful in the face of our complex future if generational diversity is regarded as a national asset and fully leveraged. The National Center on Grandfamilies is a critical part of Generations United's mission on strives to enact policies and promote programs that support relative caregivers and the children they raise. www.gu.org
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