Nurturing Intergenerational Relationships In A Care Environment

When we refer to intergenerational relationships, we are typically referring to a connection or interaction between individuals who belong to different generations within a family, community, or society. These relationships often involve exchanges of experiences, knowledge, values, and compassion between people of diverse age groups. For example, interactions between grandparents and grandchildren, or between mentors and mentees from different generations (even though no kinship ties exist between them).

Within a care environment such as a care home, connecting elderly residents with younger generations always brings profound advantages to both the physical and mental health of all parties involved, whether that be with other residents, carers, or younger family, and other loved ones. We have found that individuals living with dementia are among those that gain the most from spending time with children, teens, and young adults. The intergenerational connection goes beyond bridging generational divides and sharing wisdom. By intertwining the wisdom of maturer generations with the vitality of youth, intergenerational relationships enrich the lives of all involved.

In this article, we look at some of the benefits of intergenerational relations, some of the factors which can affect them, and some real-life examples of how professional care providers have incorporated intergenerational activities and events within their caring communities.

The Benefits Of Intergenerational Relationships

Whilst it is natural to jump to the conclusion that the younger and older generations might be poles apart when it comes to the advantages of spending time together, the benefits of such relationships cannot be overstated. Some of these include:

Knowledge And Wisdom Sharing:

Whilst old age does not guarantee wisdom, it surely plays in its favour. Our elders possess a wealth of life experience that they can pass on to younger individuals, helping them navigate various challenges and decisions in life if they are willing to listen!). Isaac Newton’s timeless wisdom echoes through the ages: “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.” In embracing this sentiment, we recognise the invaluable opportunity to glean knowledge and insight from those who have traversed the journey of life before us, enriching our own paths with their wisdom and experience.



Conversely, younger generations often bring fresh perspectives and technological savvy that can be beneficial for older adults.

Emotional Support And Companionship:

Intergenerational relationships provide opportunities for emotional bonding, companionship, and mutual support. Both older and younger individuals can find comfort, encouragement, and a sense of belonging through these connections. Companionship has been found to positively impact the mental health of seniors. We have found that encouraging residents to engage in social activities regularly in our care homes can help prevent or treat illnesses, such as anxiety, and cognitive loss, as well as bringing much loved moments of joy, significance, and a sense of purpose to their daily routine. Likewise, we regularly witness younger family members and staff members, take comfort from the sense of security gained from the guidance and understanding of their older role models. Our elder residents have the time and patience to dedicate to the younger visitors to our care homes.


In addition, we have witnessed the profound affect intergenerational contact has on those living with dementia. It is a successful at stimulating cognitive functions and memory recall by engaging individuals in reminiscing about their own past experiences. For instance, we use Doll Therapy regularly in our homes as a key part of our dementia strategy. The concept behind them is to trigger positive memories and emotions from an individual’s past – memories such as caring for their own children, grandchildren, or pets. Therapy dolls can promote feelings of comfort, relaxation, and pleasure – all the key strategies that help keep dementia residents feeling calm, safe, secure, and loved.

Promotion Of Social Skills:

Interacting with people from different age groups fosters the development of social skills such as empathy, communication, and conflict resolution. Children and adolescents can learn from the patience and understanding of older adults, while older adults can benefit from the energy and enthusiasm of younger individuals.


While gaming, TikTok, and YouTube offer their own forms of entertainment, nothing quite compares to the richness and authenticity of real-life stories and experiences! Getting youngsters off their tech and engaging in social conversation is a novelty nowadays!


Reduced Ageism:

Intergenerational relationships help break down stereotypes and reduce ageism by promoting intergenerational understanding and appreciation. Through meaningful interactions, individuals of all ages can recognise and value the unique contributions of each generation. It helps build respect and positive engagement. It’s about getting them to realise that older people still have a lot to offer.

Enhanced Well-Being

Research indicates that participating in intergenerational activities can significantly enhance the well-being of individuals across different age groups. These activities, ranging from shared hobbies to volunteer work and quality time spent together, have been shown to foster feelings of happiness, purpose, and fulfilment. This understanding is further corroborated by the Lifestyle Leads at each of our 18 care homes, who have observed firsthand the positive impact of engaging intergenerational activities on our residents. Indeed, such interactions can often be the difference between a good day and a challenging one for many of our residents, highlighting the importance of fostering connections across generations in our care communities.

By bringing generations together, communities can create a sense of unity, resilience, and collective responsibility for the well-being of all members. Communities can be strengthened by nurturing connections between people of diverse backgrounds and life stages.

Intergenerational Learning Opportunities

Older adults can serve as mentors and role models for younger generations, passing on skills, traditions, and cultural knowledge. Simultaneously, younger individuals can offer insights into contemporary issues, technology, and societal trends, creating reciprocal learning opportunities for everyone involved.

Factors That Affect Intergenerational Relationships

Intergenerational relationships are influenced by both internal and external factors, that shape the dynamics and quality of interactions between individuals of different age groups. Some of these key factors include:

  • Cultural background and values – cultural norms and values regarding family dynamics, respect for elders, and the role of different generations can significantly impact intergenerational relationships. Differences in cultural backgrounds may lead to varying expectations and communication styles between generations. 
  • Social and economic factors – socioeconomic status, access to resources, and life experiences related to employment, education, and financial stability can influence intergenerational relationships. Economic disparities within families or communities may affect opportunities for shared activities and experiences across generations.
  • Health and well-being – physical health, mental well-being, and caregiving responsibilities within families can shape intergenerational relationships. Health challenges or caregiving needs may require adaptation and support from multiple generations, impacting the dynamics of their relationships.
  • Geographical distance and mobility – Geographic distance and mobility patterns within families can affect the frequency and quality of intergenerational interactions. Proximity or separation between generations may influence the level of involvement in each other’s lives and the opportunities for shared experiences.
  • Social and cultural changes – societal shifts, such as changing family structures, evolving gender roles, and demographic trends, can impact intergenerational relationships over time. Adapting to these changes and embracing diversity within families and communities is essential for fostering inclusive and resilient intergenerational connections.
  • Communication styles and technology use – varied communication styles and preferences, as well as differences in technology literacy, can affect how well generations understand and connect with each other. The use of technology, such as smartphones and social media, may either facilitate or hinder intergenerational communication and bonding.

    For instance, while younger generations may favour communicating via WhatsApp and social media sharing, older adults might prefer traditional face-to-face conversations or phone calls. Additionally, disparities in technology literacy and access can create barriers to communication, limiting opportunities for connection and shared experiences online. Plus, the use of digital communication tools may inadvertently convey disinterest or lack of engagement, particularly in face-to-face interactions where constant smartphone checking can be perceived as disrespectful. However, technology also facilitates virtual communication, enabling family members to stay connected across geographical distances. Understanding and bridging these gaps in communication styles and technology use are essential for fostering meaningful and inclusive intergenerational relationships.

    Within our care facilities, we have managed to bridge this gap through using Myo. Myo is another app we use which serves as an interface between relatives and residents. It works in a comparable way to WhatsApp whereby we can post pictures of our residents into a private group with their loved ones and vice versa. It enables relatives and residents to feel connected with each other and share each other’s lives even when they are not physically together. It’s a very interactive platform and the residents love being able to connect with their families and friends in this way.
  • Life stage and developmental differences – variations in life stages and developmental milestones can influence the priorities, interests, and perspectives of different age groups.  
  • Family dynamics and relationships – the quality of relationships within families, including parent-child dynamics, sibling relationships, and extended family connections, can impact intergenerational relationships. Positive family dynamics characterised by trust, respect, and open communication can enhance intergenerational bonds. 

Examples Of Intergenerational Activities In Care Homes

The Future Care Group homes have long recognised the amazing benefits of bridging generations between the young and the old. We have a packed calendar of activities and events that focus on bringing youths and seniors together. Here are a few examples: 

Exercise With Burns Gym

Two young brothers, Joe, and Tony Burns from Glasgow, provide twice weekly virtual exercise sessions for our residents, their workout is structured around reducing the number of falls, improving balance, agility, strength, and mobility. They also target maintaining or improving muscle mass and strive to motivate all residents from various homes who participate in their virtual sessions.

Each of our residents’ follow and carry out the exercises at their own pace and ability. Extra help and support are given by the lifestyles team where required. As we know, exercise is fantastic for both mental and physical well-being, and improves balance, strength, and mobility. Our residents always look forward to their sessions and love that they can interact with other care homes and the trainers in Scotland.

Most or our residents have been taking part in these amazing classes for almost three years, over that time we have witnessed the huge benefits these exercises have made to our dear residents’ and are so grateful to both Tony and Joe for providing these outstanding classes and connecting with our seniors.

School Collaborations

We often have school groups visit our seniors to display their talents. We’ve enjoyed performances from local school choirs, recorder performances and other instrumental displays, drop-in craft sessions, bake offs, reading, puzzles and games galore. Last Christmas, our Southborough Nursing Home were overwhelmed with joy as some beautiful handwritten cards from the students at Surbiton High School made their way to our cherished residents

The thoughtful gestures and heartfelt messages in those cards brought immense happiness, making our residents feel deeply cherished and remembered during this festive season.

Plus, read all about our collaboration with Growing Places Nursery and our ‘integration to old’ project

Hosting Mum And Baby Groups

Holmwood Care Centre recently had the pleasure of hosting our first “all together” class with the lovely mums, babies, and Stacey of the Lullababy Kidderminster group. It was heartwarming to see two generations interact. The session was “rock and roll” themed with instruments, music, and pom poms galore. We finished off the session with sensory lights, bubbles, and a story! It was an incredible experience that we plan to continue.

Wisdom Sharing

Many of our residents love to chat and reminisce. Last Valentines Day, we asked some residents to share their love stories and impart some romantic wisdom for the younger generation. We asked residents to write down their pearls of wisdom including “Don’t rush into anything. Find the right person who makes you happy. When you’re happy, everything else will fall into place” and “Embracing the journey of love can lead to a fulfilling life.” We shared all the snippets of advice on our social media for all to see. Our aim was for our residents to share their experiences and encourage the younger generation to cherish the journey of love and not to settle for anything less than genuine happiness. The wisdom gained through years of love and companionship serves as a beacon for those starting out on their own romantic adventures.

Other examples include:

  • Birthday parties for all residents. We celebrate the residents’ birthdays in a way which suits them best. Sometimes this includes the resident and their family only, other times it will include lots of residents in a shared party.
  • Christmas morning – Prosecco, warm mince pies and an exchange of presents with family and friends.
  • Afternoon tea – We invite family and friends to join the residents for afternoon tea.
  • A local Vicar and his congregation come in to do a live service for the residents. Afterwards they stay for tea and cake and sit and talk to the residents.
  • We have regular visits from therapy dogs and other therapy pets.
  • We hold a Dementia Café for our residents and the local community, who may have a loved one or know someone they know living with Dementia. They can talk to us or speak to other people who have loved ones or friends living with Dementia. We believe no one should be alone.
  • Trips to the garden centre, especially nearer to Christmas to look at all the decorations.
  • Local dance schools visit to perform for our residents.
  • We invite residents’ families to join us for bingo sessions and activities throughout the month.
  • We hold ‘Sing-along’ sessions where families are invited to come along to sing and dance.

Check out our Facebook and Instagram channels for tonnes more heartwarming examples of bringing youths and seniors together and its transformative effects.

In summary, intergenerational relationships are to be encouraged and nurtured. Enriching conversations and shared activities with younger generations are powerful tools for enhancing the mental health of our cherished seniors. A mix of life wisdom and youthful energy brings out an invaluable synergy that can help reduce loneliness, improve memory, and boost overall mental health for our elders. We aim to continue bridging the gap and striving towards an intergenerational community within our homes and local area. This interaction not only benefits our seniors but also provides our youth with priceless life lessons and invaluable perspectives 

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