Coming Together Across the Ages

Intergenerational relationships can be equally beneficial for the younger person.
Credit Alexey Klementiev/iStock / Thinkstock

When Americans get older, two things often happen. Some are forced into a life where everyone around them is the same age, in an assisted living community when they become reliant on others for their care.

Others choose this life, retiring to the south, in a community of active seniors with no kids allowed. But what’s the impact of this kind of social isolation from those of other ages?

It used to be that extended families worked and lived together, young and old, raising and caring for each other. It’s still part of the culture in many countries...and China’s even passed a law to make sure it stays that way. Yes, the “Elderly Rights Law” forces children to visit their parents once a year, or face jail time! 

Don't we all want to be like him when we get older?
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The threat of prison notwithstanding, there’s also plenty of research showing that relationships between the young and old can benefit us in lots of ways. They offer elders a new lease on life, sharper mental skills and often, longer lives. Elders pass down perspective that many young people can desperately use. 


  • Mary Collins - Creative writing professor at Central Connecticut State University
  • Dr. Carrie Andreoletti - Associate professor in the Department of Psychological Science at Central Connecticut State University
  • Sarah Hawkes - Graduate student in history at Central Connecticut State University
  • Barbara MacKay - Retired Dean of Students from Briarwood College and Youth Director for Plantsville Congregational Church
  • Ryan Donovan - Student at Central Connecticut State University
  • Elaine Gehrmann - Executive Director of Generations of Hope

*This episode originally aired on July 2, 2013.