Living in an Intergenerational Community

Living in an Intergenerational Community: Healthy Bones for Growing Communities

As you choose your next community, a primary consideration for the good of your health is the community’s health, and one of the best indicators of a thriving community is intergenerational relationships. The  joys of being involved in a multigenerational community are plentiful:  sharing wisdom, hearing giggles,  assisting each other physically, spiritually, and with life-learned knowledge. The benefits that a senior/ youth friendship can bring are countless. How can you give a prospective community a checkup”? One way is to use  Search Institute, and their definition of a Healthy Community, as the nutritional guideline.

Research Backs It Up –Young People Need Older Adults to Live

Healthy, Balanced Lives! Search InstituteSM in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is an organization committed to helping create healthy communities by engaging the entire community in nurturing thriving youth. They are the researchers behind the Developmental Assets™ framework. The framework includes 40 “nutrients” that fall into eight “servings”: Support, Empowerment, Boundaries & Expectations, Constructive Use of Time, Commitment to Learning, Positive Values, Social Competencies, and Positive Identity. Serve up even one of these asset categories to youth in your new community, via a mentorship program, shared meals, or a shared social activity, and your “recommended daily dose” of assets is reached! Engaging older adults to assist in providing assets to youth is a win-win experience for the community – putting assets into the lives of young people while building caring,  respectful relationships for seniors, and most importantly, creating an intergenerational community that benefits members of all ages.

Serving it Up with Style: Add a Pinch of Intentionality!

Intergenerational asset-builders are often profiled on the Search Institute Web site: Ideas to share and do are featured in many of their publications, particularly Generators: 20 Activities to Recharge Your Intergenerational Group. Seniors and youth build assets together by visiting day-care centers, “vintage” dance lessons, congregational gatherings, pot-lucks, and living history stories. Amazingly creative assetbuilding activities include: an intergenerational talent show held at a summer resort, a sustainable community garden that contributes funds from sales of its produce back to the community, and a theater that not only uses multi-generational actors, but addresses various social concerns of all ages. Limited mobility does not mean limited access in an asset-building community!

When you’re investigating future communities, ask how committed they are to connecting adults of all ages and abilities with young people. Ask about available options for cooking up asset-building servings on a weekly, if not daily basis to  stay healthy in your heart, mind, and home. You want to be engaged and contribute, but how often will there be an opportunity? Perhaps there is an intergenerational program nearby at the YMCA, a local congregation, or another community gathering place? If so, then you’ve just sampled a wonderful new community to move into! If they don’t, suggest they look to Search Institute’s research to create a healthy, intergenerational community. For a free list of the Developmental Assets, visit Search Institute on-line at