August 21 is National Senior Citizens Day. It’s a day to celebrate and honor the many contributions made by mature members of our community, and to bring awareness to struggles that people may face as they age. It’s also a great opportunity to help your children better interact with, understand, and appreciate older generations. This year, why not make plans for you and your family to invest time with seniors in your area. Perhaps you can pay a visit to an aging relative that you don’t see very often? Or stop by to show your love for senior citizens who are a part of your faith community? Or become volunteers at a local assisted living facility as a family service project? If it’s helpful, try a few of these activities to facilitate meaningful intergenerational interaction:
- Conduct an interview.
- Play classic card games like Go Fish or Crazy Eights.
- Read aloud to each other.
- Do a fun, hands-on project together.
- Cloud watch.
- Play From “Me” to “We”.
- Teach each other your favorite hobbies.
- Go for a walk.
What’s more, all of these activities can help build positive relationships, and research suggests that intergenerational relationships have positive impacts for everyone involved. For instance, a 2017 study showed that children who had grandparents invested in their lives had higher academic achievement and decreased emotional and behavioral problems. Likewise, the Harvard Study of Adult Development has shown, after 80 years of research, that positive relationships are a key indicator of physical and emotional health as we age.
Visit these resources to learn more:
- Aging - University of Illinois Extension
- Aging Well
- National Senior Citizen Day - U.S. Census Bureau
- Illinois Department on Aging
- What Happen When Old and Young Connect
- Curricula & Activities – Penn State Intergenerational Program
MEET THE AUTHOR
Emily Schoenfelder joined the Illinois 4-H team in 2017. Prior to this, she began her work in positive youth development with California 4-H and the YMCA. She specializes in STEM engagement, social-emotional development, and educator professional development.
She received a Master of Science degree in recreation, park, and tourism administration from Western Illinois University.
When she is not writing curriculum or facilitating a training, you may find Emily sitting on the floor of her office, building marshmallow catapults out of popsicle sticks or designing mazes for robots for her next STEM program.
ABOUT THE BLOG
Connection Corner is a blog that provides timely information, activities, and resources to help you stay connected to loved ones, the world around you, and yourself.