Ending Age Apartheid

By June 28, 2017Community Involvement
Like our own country, Britain is in the midst of a polarizing political situation – made worse by inter-generational tension. A recent report from the organization United for All Ages pinpointed part of the problem: the generations spend much less time together than they once did! We hear about people of various political beliefs isolating themselves into a “bubble.” It seems that the generations, too, spend less time interacting.
United for All Ages is a think tank and social enterprise promoting an “all ages” approach to key social and economic issues. They recently released a report with suggestions on how to improve the situation in Britain, which could be very useful for policymakers and senior service organizations in the U.S., as well. The report, “A Country for All Ages: Ending Age Apartheid in Brexit Britain,” calls for “bringing older and younger people together through building multi-generational communities, innovative two-way relationships and better communication between generations.”

“Tackling inter-generational inequality is the challenge of our times,” according to United for All Ages. Here are some of their recommendations:

  • Building multi-generational communities: support for community businesses, making public spaces and shops more accessible, opening up community facilities from universities to older people’s housing programs for all ages, and co-locating childcare and eldercare facilities
  • Mutual support through two-way relationships: online mentoring of younger people, advocacy for older people needing health and social care, home share programs where younger people live with older people, and increased interaction between grandparents and grandchildren
  • Better communication between generations: establishing a national council for all ages supported by an inter-generational convention bringing older and younger people together from across the country, building bridges between generations with shared identities and interests, and using theatre, other arts activities, and street parties.

Today in the U.S., we are seeing some of these innovations. Children’s day care facilities located in nursing homes, assisted living communities and adult day centers are benefiting both young and old participants. For better or for worse, we have more multi-generational households today as rising housing costs make it a smart economic choice for senior parents and adult children. And statistics show that retired baby boomers are providing a growing amount of childcare for grandchildren.

We can do much more! These policies and programs enable young people to benefit from the wisdom and experience of older citizens, and reduce ageism and the stigma surrounding aging—which not only hurts seniors, but also makes it less likely that younger people will plan for their later years and make healthy-aging-friendly lifestyle choices.

Said United for All Ages Director Stephen Burke, “By sharing our concerns and interests and sharing our experiences and community activities across generations, we can promote stronger understanding and trust between people of all ages. Starting in our neighborhoods and communities, we can all take responsibility to make it happen. In our aging society, this is the big challenge for social innovation in 2017 and beyond.”

Source: IlluminAge AgeWise reporting on the “A Country for All Ages: Ending Age Apartheid in Brexit Britain” from United for All Ages. Read the whole report here.

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