10 Fun Intergenerational Activities for Older and Younger Friends
We live in an era of improved health management and delayed ageing. The divide between generations is diminishing and intergenerational friendships are more prevalent than ever. Since older doesn’t have to mean less active, curious or adventurous, there are many ways for friends or family of different generations to enjoy time together. Here are some activities ideal for all ages:
- Learn a new skill like a game, sport or language. Different generations have a lot to teach one another but this sets aside roles and experience to embark on a learning journey on an equal footing. It could be anything from dance to card games or martial arts but the process of gaining a new skill and competing at it can be fun and create a sense of camaraderie.
- Enjoy a show/exhibition/festival. A wide range of events now appeal equally to adults of different generations. It can be a musical, antique fair, literary festival, yoga session, wine tasting or attending a topical lecture. As such, many event companies now welcome younger adults as well as the over 50s on the same activities and holidays.
- Shop Together. Retail therapy is good for you, so research shows! Making shopping decisions can help reinforce a sense of personal control over your environment and ease feelings of sadness. In one study people who purchased items were three times less sad compared to those who only browsed! Having a pair of younger or older eyes on your purchases may help inject style, or ensure you are not making any fashion faux pas!
- Take a Magical Mystery Tour. Hiking with friends has huge benefits but going on a car journey with no particular destination has its own charms. Most of your time is spent under pressure to meet deadlines and achieve targets. It is refreshing to release yourself from that and head nowhere-in-particular in unfamiliar territory, with pretty scenery and time to chat.
- Do something a little crazy. Increasingly, older people are ‘sensation-seeking’, with high-octane activities like paragliding, mountain biking or zip-wiring. Obviously you need to be fit for this, and many are. According to positive psychology this creates a state of ‘Flow’, which means being fully immersed in the moment, energised, experiencing a sense of floating, effectively a ‘high’. Not only does this create happiness, but it can restore a sense of youth, especially if you matched a younger friend at it!
- Cultivate a garden. Studies show that gardening reduces anxiety and depression, whilst improving quality of life and sense of community. If you garden together with someone younger, they can help with any physically challenging elements. It also offers time to chat, unwind, think creatively and share ideas. Plus, in the process, you are creating a lovely visual environment.
- De-clutter. There is something very satisfying in creating order from chaos, even if it is not your own, and the process can turn up interesting finds. Unearthing buried treasures or old albums with someone from a different generation offers an opportunity to share what could be a fascinating journey into history whilst doing something practical.
- Volunteer. Giving back, knowing you are helping others, makes you feel good, be it packing meals or manning a phoneline. Charitable work increases your self-confidence, and the better you feel about yourself the more likely you are to have a positive view of your life and purpose. Doing this alongside someone of a different generation can bring a fresh exchange of perspectives and possibly an opportunity for mentoring too.
- Collaborate on an art or literary project. The process of creating art can be therapeutic and gratifying. You may have skills in writing or the arts that others would benefit from sharing, and taking time out to collaborate on that means not only helping develop someone else’s skills, but having time to chat, enjoy the process, and hopefully the results.
- If you’re up to it, take on a physical challenge. Training together for something big like a marathon is not only mentally and physically beneficial but can be a great motivation-builder that will impact more widely on your sense of wellbeing. Ultimately it can also produce a real sense of accomplishment. Having an energetic partner to train with can help keep you on track.
Andrea Frankenthal is the founder of Hapipod.com, an online matching site for compatible homesharers to connect and exchange time or help for affordable rooms. Hapipod enables people of all ages and means to enhance their home lives.
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