Today’s families are often separated by long distances. Adult children may leave the city they grew up in to go to college or pursue a career. They may settle in a new location and raise their family there. Busy family life can make trips home to visit loved ones more challenging.
As a result, grandparents might only visit with their grandchildren in person a few times a year, usually during summer vacation and the winter holidays.
Because grandchildren might not spend much time with older adults, it’s difficult for them to see the positive contributions older adults make in their communities. Young people in the family might develop unhealthy attitudes about aging.
Bridging the Generation Gap
Research shows that when kids don’t have opportunities to engage and bond with family elders, they are more likely to have negative feelings about aging. They buy into stereotypes about senior citizens and are more likely to fear growing older.
One way to bring the two generations together when families live far away is through mentoring. Seniors can volunteer their time to help the children and youth in their communities. Mentoring benefits older adults as much as it does the younger generation being mentored.
Volunteer work helps seniors find purpose during retirement. This can boost an older adult’s self-esteem at a time when they may be struggling to determine what their next act in life will be.
Tutoring an elementary student or mentoring a young adult gives a senior an opportunity to share their knowledge, skills, and life experiences with the younger generation. Intergenerational mentor programs allow retirees to stay involved in their communities in meaningful ways.
Connecting Seniors with Mentoring Projects
A few ways you can connect with a mentoring project during retirement include:
- Foster Grandparents Program: Senior Corps is an organization dedicated to helping older adults live meaningful lives. One of their most popular programs is the Foster Grandparents program. Adults who are 55 years of age or older can mentor children in their community through this program. You’ll find foster grandparents engaging with children and youth of all ages in settings ranging from Head Start to juvenile correction centers.
- Local United Way: You can also call your local United Way chapter to find out what opportunities exist near you. Most United Way agencies keep a database of organizations seeking volunteers. Mentors are often needed at local elementary schools, afterschool programs, and nonprofit daycare centers.
- Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP): Many community-based agencies on aging have partnerships with RSVP programs. These organizations can help senior volunteers connect with mentoring opportunities in their local area.
Volunteer Opportunities at Sunrise
At Sunrise communities, we are committed to helping older adults live meaningful days. Through our Live With Generosity program, residents have an opportunity to participate in a wide variety of community service projects. Call us today at 888-434-4648 to learn more.