Ask Joan: Intergenerational activities benefit us all
March 11, 2024

Q: A friend and I recently attended an arts program at a local senior center that brought together older adults and high school students. It was such a great experience, and it made me realize how lucky I am to regularly spend time with my own grandchildren. Some of my friends either don’t have grandchildren or they live far away. I think programs like this could be really beneficial. What do you think?

Joan Hatem-Roy
CEO of AgeSpan

A: What a great experience, and I agree! One of the best things about being with people of different ages is realizing how much we can learn from each other. I have seen that in my own family and with friends. Older adults and young people benefit by spending time together, and we know that social isolation and loneliness aren’t specific to one age group

The National Resource Center for Engaging Older Adults (engAged) says people who participate in these types of programs or activities benefit from enhanced life satisfaction, larger social networks, improved health and wellbeing, better memories, and expanded learning and skills.

There are more opportunities for these kinds of intergenerational experiences in schools, libraries, and other community-based organizations, such as cooking or music lessons, current events clubs, and job and tech skills training. For example, AgeSpan staff recently helped lead a workshop on ageism and intersectionality at a local high school’s Youth Equity Summit.

There are lots of ways to connect with younger people. Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Contact your local senior center and ask about intergenerational programs.
  • Volunteer at a school or for a youth organization.
  • Beautify your neighborhood by picking up litter, clearing paths, or weeding a park and get others involved.
  • Help at an animal shelter or visit a children’s hospital.
  • Participate in a community orchestra or theater group.
  • Start an all-ages book club or read with a child.
  • Start or attend a mutual interest club or affinity group.

At AgeSpan, we see the benefits of intergenerational interactions through our digital access program, where we help people of all ages learn how to use a tablet computer, get online, and get connected. We also have volunteers of all ages helping to deliver meals and support other agency programs.

I hope this inspires you and your friends to continue to seek out ways to spend time with younger people. For all of us, the more we spend time together, the more we all benefit.

Are you caring for an older adult or need help locating healthy aging resources? Our experienced staff is available to help. Visit us online at . You can also call 800-892-0890 or email

Joan Hatem-Roy is the chief executive officer of AgeSpan.

Resize text-+=