Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer

Intergenerational Relationships

Peggy Fossen DNP, RN, CNE

What exactly are intergenerational relationships, and why should we be interested in this? There is growing interest in this concept, and several factors contribute to this phenomenon.

People are living healthier and longer lives, with approximately one in six people being 65 or older. In addition, older adults are seeking fulfilling lives, which involve staying connected and involved. One way to achieve this is to develop meaningful relationships.  And, most importantly, these relationships have been proven to be beneficial for both the older adult and the younger person.

What Exactly is an Intergenerational Relationship?

While there is growing interest related to this now, intergenerational relationships have been around for a long time. In the past, multigenerational relationships occurred within families, as many families lived together. While relationships within the family were the most common, the phrase intergenerational refers to all forms of relationships between individuals and groups of different generations.

Most importantly, intergenerational relationships promote different generations to become closer by spending time together, sharing stories, participating in activities, and learning from each other.

Unfortunately, the importance of intergenerational relationships has become lost over the years. Multigenerational families were not as common, and people became more divided at home, at work, and in their communities. It appeared that the concept of age segregation replaced that of intergenerational relationships.

However, recently, there seems to be increased interest on the benefits of intergenerational relationships.

Benefits of Intergenerational Relationships

Along with the development of friendships and relationships, intergenerational relationships have benefits.

  • Health improvement.
  • Developing valuable connections.
  • Learning new skills.
  • Gives a sense of purpose.
  • New friendships.
  • Promotes a better outlook on aging.
  • Improves memory.
  • Reduces feelings of isolation and loneliness.
  • Presents the opportunity to share life lessons.
  • Improves overall cognition.

While these benefits are focused on the older adult, the benefits are mutual and are shared by all involved. Older adults can act in the role of mentors for younger people. Studies support the benefits of such programs, especially for the younger participants. These include.

  • Decreased use of drugs and alcohol.
  • Better communication skills.
  • Fewer symptoms of depression.
  • Increase involvement in sports and activities.

The benefits of intergenerational relationships span across all generations. But, as previously mentioned, age segregation exists, and many do not have age diversity in their friendships. A recent study supports this claim, along with the fact that lack of age diversity promotes age segregation and isolation.

Types of Intergenerational Relationships

Intergenerational Relationships occur within and outside of the family unit. Within the family, there are Grandparent-Grandchild and Parent-Child relationships. Both relationships are essential in promoting healthy family dynamics.

At work, a multigenerational workforce is beneficial for all. The significant benefits of having employees from different generations include.

  • Multiple perspectives and different views.
  • Different problem-solving skills.
  • Knowledge sharing.
  • Mentoring others.
  • Learning from others.
  • Developing relationships and friends.

Intergenerational Relationships are also meaningful in the community. Sharing experiences, traditions, and knowledge helps promote cohesiveness within communities. There is also value in just developing friendships with others from different generations.

Find New Friends

Friendships are built on shared beliefs and interests; this usually means friends are similar in age. However, now there is encouragement to expand those friendships to include all generations. There are significant benefits to having friends from different generations, which include new learning opportunities, fresh perspectives, sharing, and a sense of connection. For a wonderful example of this, take time to watch this YouTube video, which displays this so perfectly:

Whatever the type of intergenerational relationship, it is evident that there is enormous value in this type of interaction between the different ages and generations.

Foster Grandparents

So, how can Older Adults embrace this concept of Intergenerational Relationships, helping to bring back all the benefits that accompany it? One way is to become a foster grandparent. Programs like this exist in many organizations like the Dr. Piper Center. This program serves two purposes: engaging older adults and providing support to the younger population. Both participants experience improved lives and a better quality of life.

The Power of Intergenerational Relationships

Social interactions and connecting with others are part of the human existence. Connecting and having these relationships are crucial for our mental and physical well-being. Intergenerational Relationships provide opportunities that increase empathy, increase cognitive functioning, and live longer lives.  Take the time to seek out some of these opportunities and find friends of different ages. Explore activities that unite generations, such as community service projects or educational classes. Most importantly, develop sincere friendships based on shared values, respect, and affection—something all ages have in common.


Boatman, A. (2023, September 14). Understanding today’s multigenerational workforce: Benefits, challenges, and 9 best management practices. AIHR.

Caplan, Z. (2023, May 25). U.S. older population grew from 2010 to 2020 at fastest rate since 1880 to 1890.

Helmer, J. (2023, March 28). Embrace the special value of intergenerational friendships. AARP.

Mentoring impact. connect with a young person. MENTOR. (2023, November 29).

Meyer, C. (2023, September 21). Intergenerational relationships – benefits and importance. SWM.

Michie, M. (2023, October 5). The benefits of intergenerational relationships. IRT.

Sanchez, M., & Diaz, P. (1970, January 1). Intergenerational relationships. SpringerLink.

Satya Moolani, G. B. (2020, November 17). The value of intergenerational relationships. ChangingAging.

The importance of intergenerational relationships . MI Blues Perspectives. (n.d.).

Wu, H.-Y., Wu, F., Chen, R., Heinrichs, M., Ott, T., Abramova, O., Li, Y., Sung, K.-T., Economic, D., Noroozian, M., Stites, S., Zhang, Q., Arsalani, N., Lourida, I., … Uchino, B. (2023, June 10). Association of intergenerational relationship and supports with cognitive performance in older adults: A systematic review. Geriatric Nursing.

Leave a comment