Loneliness is a widely recognised social issue among the older generations. Isolation and chronic loneliness are known to increase the risk of a range of health problems. A number of charities and groups are doing fantastic work raising awareness of, and combatting, loneliness. But there will not be a ‘quick fix’, and addressing the problem of endemic loneliness is likely to require a multi-faceted approach.
The task of tackling this is, by its very nature, likely to fall to younger people. By challenging misconceptions about old age, and confronting negative stereotypes about older people, we can hope to more fully understand the needs and wisher of older adults. Therefore, would schemes to improve relationships between different generations help to tackle some of these issues?
This question has been addressed in a number of recent news stories, focusing on relationships between young children and the elderly.
Cross-generational care settings (combining pre-school daycare with elderly care) have been tested in some countries, such as the US. One such setting, the Intergenerational Learning Centre in Seattle, reported in 2015 that the older residents had benefitted significantly from the introduction of a daycare setting in their care home. In the UK, there have also been a number of these schemes tested. For example, a recent Channel 4 documentary “Old People’s Homes for Four Year Olds” introduced a nursery into an elderly care setting for 6 weeks, to investigate the impact on residents and children. At the end of the experiment, residents showed an improvement in many aspects of well-being. Another similar experiment in Wales also showed benefits for pre-schoolers, for example in the form of improved language skills.
Pen Pal Systems
In Kidderminster, a primary school introduced a pen pal system, connecting residents of a local care home with primary school pupils. The programme was intended to help cross-generational connections, improve well-being in the elderly participants, and introduce the pupils to the benefits of letter writing. After several months communicating via letter, pupils visited the care home to meet the residents in person. In a video recording of this visit, the pupils reflected on how much they enjoy talking to the residents, learning about their lives and experiences. This kind of positive engagement is likely to help with breaking down barriers, and dispelling misconceptions about old age and dementia.
Seniors At School
In another scheme, an Essex primary school invited local elderly residents in to work with four and five year olds, reading, singing, and play games. The scheme was a positive experience for both groups, with improved well-being for residents, benefits for pupils such as improved reading scores, more self-confidence, and improved opinions on older people.
These examples represent just a fraction of the work being done to foster positive cross-generational relationships. As the population of older adults increases, problems relating to isolation and loneliness are also likely to increase. Communication between generations is likely to be positive for all, so finding ways to connect is essential. Anyone can be affected by loneliness, now or in the future, and as the population ages, addressing the risks of isolation will be essential.
How Link-ages Can Help
Loneliness among older generations is an issue that our app, Link-ages, strives to help solve. We recognised the importance of the relationship between young people and the elderly from the very start. As in the cases highlighted above, the challenge is often facilitating an interaction between the two generations. Our family of apps creates a safe and secure space where family members can share messages and memories including photos and videos. The apps have been tested extensively with the older generation and are therefore designed with every generation in mind.
Getting Started With Link-ages
Download The Link-ages Hub App
To start using Link-ages simply download the Link-ages Hub app for iPad from the app store. Once you have downloaded the Hub app, you will be able to complete the sign up process within the app. During the sign up process you will be able to select a subscription to the Hub, your subscription will start after your free two week trial.
Invite Your Family And Friends To Join You
Family and friends can join your private and secure space by downloading the Link-ages Go app for free from the App Store or Google Play store. When they have downloaded our Go app they can connect to your Hub using the pin code and postcode that you entered during the sign up process.
Further information about the sign up process is available in our sign up guide.