If you’ve ever brought a child or teen to visit an aging loved one in an assisted living community or nursing home, you’ve likely noticed how popular they quickly become. Seniors enjoy interaction with the younger generation. Many aging experts believe that friendships between these two age groups can help prevent depression among older adults, especially those with mobility issues that keep them from getting out and about in the community. What can you do to encourage these relationships between your child and the older adults in your life?
Activities for Children and Seniors to Enjoy Together
There are a wide variety of activities that can help build intergenerational bonds depending upon the senior’s abilities and the child’s age. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Arts and Crafts. The great thing about arts and crafts as an intergenerational activity is that they can be as simple as you need for them to be. It could be putting together a scrapbook of family photos and events or enjoying simple coloring book time with small children. Another fun and easy activity is to create a Family Handprint Tree.
- Break Out the Board Games. With so many board games available for almost every age group, these are easy go-to activities. Whether it is Monopoly, Operation, Candyland or Hedbanz, having a game day or night is a great way to relax and spend time together.
- Create Masterpiece Cookies. Frosted sugar cookies are always a hit with kids of both generations! You can make the dough ahead of time and have the kids help cut them out in a variety of fun shapes. Then the younger ones can help bake and frost them. If that sounds like a little too much work, you can buy frozen, pre-baked cutouts at many grocery stores. Then all you have to do is thaw and decorate!
- Make a Fairy Garden. Fairy gardens are likely to capture the imagination of even the youngest of children. Fortunately, they are very popular right now. That means supplies are easy to come by even at discount stores. You can create an indoor or outdoor fairy garden together. Use fun containers like a wagon or wicker basket to make the fairy gardens more mobile.
- Make a Movie. Most digital cameras and cell phones have video capabilities. Take advantage of that to make an intergenerational movie together. Teens will no doubt be the experts at how to do this. Pick a topic like “School Days” and let the older and younger generation each talk about what their day at school involved.
If you are looking for more project ideas, Grandparents.com is a great resource. They have themed activities around holidays like Christmas or Valentine’s Day for both generations to enjoy together.