Many old people go for days without any human contact. We know that this isolation brings increased risks of ill health. We must start looking at healthcare as everyone’s business, not just being dispensed by the state.
In our lives today, increasingly lived in silos and communities of interest, there is an impact on all generations. This creates stress and feelings of being isolated and is heightened if we have no one to talk to and share our lives with. One way to combat silo living is to connect young and old in different ways across the community for their mutual benefit.
Most people are aware of the vast research demonstrating the benefits of bringing together older and younger people, to share experiences and interact – The Generation Gap Group is now active in Cranleigh. This group of people is focused on providing just these opportunities on our own doorstep.
Regular sessions were established at Cedar Court and included a ‘Pat Dog’ – an ice breaker and calming influence. Older people enjoyed the opportunity to laugh and have playful fun with
the children from a local nursery school. Many commented on how they particularly enjoyed their spontaneous curiosity and playfulness. These pleasures create positive connections with people and importantly, stimulate the brain itself, affect- ing mood and challenging the monotony of daily life. New words, songs and connections created with the children provide a talking point leading to lengthy chats about their own families, past and present.
For the children, sharing time and friendship with people of their grandparents and great grandparent’s generations, builds social skills and confidence. It also develops positive communication and relationships. It was a delight to see the happy faces of children feeling at home with older people.
The group’s values and initial aims of bringing generations together, fits with the SMART Cranleigh CIC aims. This Community Interest Company is a citizen driven initiative for healthy living and quality of life in Cranleigh for all ages, within an ageing community. Intergenerational project work develops greater cross generational respect and dignity and advances young people’s life skills whilst helping older and frail people to have contact with young people to improve their wellbeing.
The hope is that the parents will gain pleasure from seeing and supporting their child’s spontaneous interactions with older people, whilst making friends with other families and being part of an inclusive local community group.