In the words of Cultural Anthropologist Margaret Mead, “Somehow we have to get older people back close to growing children if we are to restore a sense of community, a knowledge of the past and a sense of the future.” It's with that philosophy in mind that we welcome you to the world of intergenerational (or multigenerational) activities!
As Mead points out, participating in activities with people of all ages—also known as age integration—can be good for the mind, the body and the soul. These activities promote exercise, a positive mental attitude and general good vibes for everyone.
At the most basic level, Conversations between generations can be a great way to broaden horizons. For example, you can share your history and preserve your legacy while your younger companion can compare observations of modern society. You can even use technology together to look back on Jewish life in the UK. The end result is that you both learn and grow from the exchange.
There are several different ways to explore your multigenerational options. You can get involved in these of kinds activities fairly easily.
Local intergenerational activities
Let's start out by taking a look at connections you can make right in your neighbourhood. The following ideas can help you get started.
Volunteer in your community
Local schools, libraries and religious organisations appreciate volunteers of all ages. These organisations usually need help reading to youngsters, playing basic games with children, chaperoning day trips to museums or supporting other activities that are offered. There's even a term—grand mentoring—if you volunteer to teach specific skills or help with homework on a regular basis.
In the Saga article entitled, "Intergenerational learning takes off," Danny Scott writes, "...students with older adult tutors make some 60% more progress in critical reading skills. Older adults who regularly volunteer with children, meanwhile, have been found to burn 20% more calories, experience fewer falls and perform better in memory tests."
And if you volunteer at a charitable organisation like an animal shelter or food bank, you'll probably meet people of all ages who share your interests. To get started as a volunteer, you usually need some brief training and a criminal records check (once known as a CRB—now referred to as a DBS check). Most of the time you'll find that both organisers and recipients will appreciate any time you can contribute.
Plan activities with a family member or friend
If you have younger family members or friends nearby, there are many activities you can plan to do together. These experiences, like starting a garden or joining a theatre club, can be an enjoyable way to build stronger bonds while learning about a new (or shared) hobby.
Staying organised or asking your companion to help makes it a treat for everyone. All you have to do is think of a few appealing ideas and then get to work making the fun happen.
- Join a class in your local area (crafts or cooking are always great places to start). You can often find information by looking online or by calling your local authority directly. You can also get inspiration from our Classes and continuing education page.
- Visit museums or local historical sites. If you're interested in exploring art, you can get a quick overview of Art appreciation before you head with your companion to the nearest museum or noteworthy site. These places can be a good activity option because they tend to have toilets, wheelchair access and food. You can easily find information about accessibility on the Internet. For example, Visit London has a useful page called Top 20 accessible London attractions.
- Attend a play, movie or concert. Dr Gerald Lazarus, an 80-year-old retired physician states, “In my past life, I was not much of a theatre buff, but going to a show with my granddaughters is one of my absolute favourite activities. Watching their joy and sharing an experience is priceless. After we see the show we have a shared experience that provides easy conversation and a window into how my beautiful granddaughters see the world.” Best of all, theatre and concert venues also tend to have toilets, wheelchair access and food.
- Start or join a book group. If you enjoy reading, discussion groups are extremely interesting when the members of the group have different perspectives. This option is a bonus because it can be a recurring event with minimal effort. Read our overview of Clubs and groups to learn more about joining a book club or discussion group.
- Schedule technology teaching time with any young people you know. Ask a young person to help you with managing your phone, iPad, desktop computer or other device so you can find out ways to tackle any issues you may have. Using technology is second nature to the younger generation, and it is easy to find someone to help you; most of the time, all you have to do is ask. Zoe Goldstein volunteers at the Penfold Community Hub in Marylebone. She goes once a month to help the older attendees with their technology needs. Goldstein says, “I helped one woman (who loved music) with her playlist and earphones. Now she can enjoy music whenever she wants without imposing it on those around her.” For more information on technology, read our Tech talk page.
Resources for local activities
If you're looking for links for intergenerational options in your community, try these resources located throughout the country:
- Alive: Lighting up later life
- Beth Johnson Foundation (Northern Ireland)
- Generations Working Together (Scotland)
- Kent's Best Intergenerational Initiative
- London Bubble Theatre Company
- Magic Me Arts Charity
- Spring Chickens from the Big Telly Theatre Company (Northern Ireland)
- United for all ages
Grand intergenerational adventures
According to a recent survey, more than half of families with young children plan "gramping" holidays—holidays that include one grandparent (or more). As a family experience, multigenerational adventures not only bring people together to create and share memories, they can also help to save costs.
It is easy to plan a fulfilling holiday for family members of various ages and interests, even if some of the people in the group have physical limitations. Active offerings can be selected by those who enjoy them, while other holidaymakers can opt to socialise or even just experience some quiet time if they prefer. And if you'd prefer a different kind of holiday, check out this basic advice on what to do if you want to Go travelling.
It may help to join a tour or a cruise where an itinerary has been pre-planned and where there will be plenty of staff on hand to assist you in navigating any potentially tricky situations that travelling can sometimes impose. Furthermore, if you are not up for an excursion, you can relax back at your hotel or cabin while your younger companions enjoy an adventure. Either way, you are both still sharing an experience, and you'll have plenty of topics to discuss afterwards over dinner!
Make sure to contact your travel agent, airline or train operator for assistance on anything to do with disability requirements. It's important to plan ahead if you will require any help on the day you travel. Also, think about contacting your hotel so they can also be prepared to accommodate your needs.
Note that there is disability-specific information on how to travel and enjoy getting out and about on these pages of Jewish Care Interact:
- Hearing loss
- Sight loss
- Physical disabilities
- Mental health issues
- Learning disabilities
- Memory loss and dementia
For more information
There are several companies that specialise in intergenerational travel. If you search online you can find plenty of resources to help you. These links can help you get started:
- Austin Family Adventure Vacations
- Journeys International Multi-Generation Trips
- Multigenerational Family Fun Tauck Style
- Road Scholar Grandparent Trips
- Smithsonian Family Journeys
Good luck, and enjoy the multigenerational adventure!