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Friday, May 20, 2016

Inter-generational bonding – A necessary action to bond the young and elderly

Inter-generational bonding is an umbrella term in itself. Yet let us first understand the emotional need which is fulfilled through such a bonding. It consists of the bonding of the aging and young generation on friendly, cordial and co-operative terms. Such a bonding is a medium to develop an equal understanding level between grandparents and grandchildren. The wide term, ‘Inter-generational bonding’ would include the acceptance of each other’s thought processes, changing habits, preferences, choices and behavior. It is increasingly important for both the generations to openly accept each other the way they are. For example, the elderly should openly accept the trends of younger generation; it includes receptiveness for and learning of the new technology and social networking too. If both are connected via the new forms of communication and networking like email, Whats App, Hike messenger, Facebook, then it would help the younger generation to relate with their elders. Also, elders can appreciate the transformed and trendy dressing styles and lifestyle of the youngsters. Similarly, the younger generation should also spend quality time with their grandparents; for instance, if grandchildren are staying away, then they can at least meet their grandparents on weekends or celebrate the seniors’ birthdays and anniversaries together. If all the three generations are staying together then parents and grandparents can spend time and take care of their elders every day; all the family members can have dinner together and talk for sometime every day. Such minute but important gestures would remarkably contribute to strengthen inter-generational bonding. It plays an important role to satisfy the emotional need of the aging population. It helps the grandparents to meet their grandchildren during their aging phase. And, the grandchildren too can experience the precious company of their grandparents.

According to HelpAge India, India’s elderly population is estimated to become 200 million till 2030. Also, at present 95 million Indians are above the age of 60. Moreover, today’s lifestyle is changing due to more of online interactions instead of actual, personal interactions. In addition to this, the academic and professional commitments too, have increased. It has thus led to the growth of an online culture. These are one of the factors which have resulted into lack of inter-generational interaction. So, the SAVE (Student Action for Value Education) program, a HelpAge India initiative plays an important role to bridge this gap between elders and youngsters. Through this program, activities, games and festival celebrations are organized to enable and strengthen inter-generational bond. Thus, SAVE ensures that the elderly population is relieved of isolation and neglect by participating in such interactive, refreshing activities.

Silver Innings is a Mumbai-based social enterprise (For profit) which was formed to provide need based services to India’s elderly population. Since 2008, Silver Innings along with A-1 Snehanjali, its sister concern have been conducting refreshing inter-generational programs. The purpose of these programs is to create harmony between both the generations. They conduct activities such as music and dance events, story-telling, summer camp, recreational games, SIFC Football club matches, 60 v/s 16 Cricket matches etc. These programs help create a unique bond between elders and youngsters. It creatively portrays the long term vision of Silver Innings – ‘Creating elder-friendly world where ageing becomes a positive and rewarding experience.’ Silver Innings is living with its aim of supporting and caring for the growing number of elderly in our country. Therefore, it is playing a vital role to bond the elder and young generation.

SKIP is a Canada-based organization which has been working for a decade to develop cordial, co-operative and unique relation between the senior and younger generation. SKIP (Seniors and Kids Intergenerational Programs) organizes intergenerational bonding programs. For example, it hosts interesting activities and games for elders and youngsters. These activities make the seniors feel satisfied since they can freely share their life stories with the youngsters. The youngsters too feel equally comfortable to interact with elders because of this unique medium of interaction. SKIP helps elders to engage themselves creatively and mentally in order to gradually reduce their loneliness. Consequently, these programs have helped the youngsters understand the importance of elders in a very better manner. (Click video to watch SKIP activities.) Thus, SKIP plays a remarkable role to facilitate interaction between elders and youngsters. Such an inter-generational bonding has been positively helping the elders to live life in a renewed way. (Click video to watch its founder speak)

A paper entitled, ‘Promoting intergenerational understanding between the young and old: the case of Singapore Leng Leng Thang, National University of Singapore’has been published on UN website (Please click UN to view the entire paper). It has described the efforts that were done on a national level to promote intergenerational bonding. The paper states that, ‘In Singapore, the setting up of the taskforce to promote grandparenting and intergenerational bonding in July 2002 by the Singapore Ministry of Community Development (now expanded as the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports) could be regarded as the starting point of state effort to promote intergenerational initiatives in Singapore.’ [Note: The Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports restructured on 1st November, 2012 as Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF)]. The State has been promoting the celebration of Grandparent’s Day on every 4th Sunday of November. The purpose of this day is to make the younger generation realize the importance of grandparent’s contribution to their life. Later, in 2005, a Gen3 Fund Inter-School Competition was arranged as part of the activities of the National Family Week. The Gen3 Fund played a very important role to fund the recreational, fun-filled activities conducted by Singapore Government.

Another paper entitled, ‘Ageing families in Singapore’ was published in February 2015 by Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), Singapore. It has stated that family support is very crucial and valuable for the aged members. Such support has been provided to the aged members – emotionally, physically and financially by their family members. The paper states that , ‘The Perception and Attitudes towards Ageing and Seniors (PATAS) survey in 2013 found that 96.5% of respondents aged between 50 and 74 years agreed that family support was key to successful ageing.’ It further explains that, ‘In the Housing and Development Board (HDB) Sample Household Survey (SHS) 2013, the majority of elderly residents expressed confidence that they were able to rely on their children for physical, emotional and financial support. They also reported that they were able to rely more on their unmarried children as most of them were living together, compared to their married children for physical support, while they were able to rely similarly on both married and unmarried children for emotional and financial support.’ Thus, a caring nature and sensitive behavior by the grown-up, responsible children towards their parents too forms an important part of intergenerational bonding.

Now let us understand the intergenerational bonding which can happen at workplace too in a comprehensive and creative manner. Employseniors.org (Ohio, U.S.A.) provides free employment services inclusive of guidance and support from a Volunteer Job Counselor, job referrals; it acts as a link between seniors aged 50 & above and the employers;  organizes Annual Senior Job Fair which hosts career, educational programs and networking with local employers; it also undertakes workshops and programs to broaden career options of senior citizens; it provides resources to elderly job seekers to attain employment for achieving financial stability for themselves and their family. 

Seniors.lovetoknow.com mentions some work from home jobs for senior citizens. They can creatively engage themselves in online jobs like selling products on ebay, paid blogging, working as consultant, conducting tuitions, cooking/catering, tailoring etc. Yet, there is an intense need to unite the younger and senior population at workplace. It would enhance a new kind of intergenerational bonding. Moreover, it would be an excellent way to create earning opportunity for elderly people. As a result, they would achieve dignity, financial stability and social belongingness. The increasing population of seniors and their rising isolation can also be dealt with in this way. The efforts of Government and business world would play a very significant role to employ the growing number of elderly in their companies along with young executives.

Thus, the inter-generational bonding would cater to our elderly population in terms of emotional and physical support as well as financial support. It would remarkably build and develop their self-reliance and self-respect.

Long live intergenerational bonding!!

By Sneha Tipnis

About Author: 
Sneha Tipnis is a freelance writer from India. She has been writing for online writers’ platforms like writersbureau.com, Triond, Authspot and Bookstove.  She writes content for websites, brochures, blogs and social media updates. She’s an English Literature Graduate and Masters in Educational Technology – Computer Applications (MET-CA). She has worked in the e learning industry for a year pertaining to Masters Degree. She’s a student of The Writers Bureau  (A renowned Writing College in UK), Manchester, London.

You can connect with Sneha on her blog: goldentipsmumbai.blogspot.in , Google+, LinkedIn and Facebook page Thoughts, Feelings and Expressions.

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