Envisioning an Intergenerational World
One powerful and potentially lasting way to fight against ageism is to foster greater connections between older and younger generations. The generational divide — caused as much by tribalism as by age — may seem difficult to overcome, but there are beacons of light in the darkness that can help us envision an intergenerational world. Here are three innovative examples:
Encore.org — Encore is a vanguard in bringing together generations. According to this nonprofit organization, “For the first time in U.S. history, people over 60 outnumber people under 18, raising fears of widening generational divides. Encore.org sees another path — a more-old-than-young society that works for all generations. By accelerating intergenerational solutions to pressing social problems from literacy to loneliness, Encore.org bridges divides and collaborates across generations to create a better future together.” Founder Marc Freedman writes eloquently about the topic, and Encore.org affirms its commitment by sponsoring “Gen2Gen” fellowships.
Mon Ami — Two Stanford MBAs, Madeline Dangerfield-Cha and Joy Zhang, co-founded Mon Ami to challenge the asumption that “young is immature and old obsolete.” In an article for the Stanford Social Innovation Review, they write, “The organization began as a direct service platform, leveraging gig technology to match older adults and their families with college students, who visited weekly to engage in social activities such as playing Scrabble, writing memoirs, and going on walks. … By March 2020, when COVID-19 hit, hundreds of students enrolled at colleges in the Bay Area of California had provided more than 10,000 hours of companionship to older adults, either in their homes or at their assisted living facilities.” In their article, Dangerfield-Cha and Zhang cite two other tech apps/platforms, “Papa” and “Big& Mini,” that are innovating in this space.
UpsideHom — Highlighted recently by The Longevity Project, UpsideHom is a startup that focuses on intergenerational living. Launched last year in Florida, the company’s goal “is to allow older people to age in place inside multi-generational living communities, primarily apartment buildings that do not necessarily cater to the needs of older renters. To support that, they offer fully-supported units inside these apartment communities — bundling together furniture, maintenance, housekeeping services and so forth — to make it easier to age in place.” Founder and CEO Jake Rothstein told The Longevity Project in an interview, “Aging in place versus aging in the right place is something that people really need to think about. …this decision is a very, very big one, an impactful one that affects themselves and the family members that care for them. Building trust throughout the journey is a real challenge, and probably one that traditional assisted living facilities face as well. …Educating people in order to build that trust is really the biggest challenge, I would say.”
These examples are both inspiring and prescient. Each of them suggests in their own way the potential for generations to interact, learn from each other and potentially live side by side. What better way to combat ageism than to have generations understand, appreciate, assist and respect one another.
This article originally appeared on my blog, HappilyRewired.com.