Summer 2021 Newsletter
By Ashton Howell, CBIS, OTS
Occupational Therapy, University of Central Arkansas
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Cathy Acre Ed.D., OTR/L, FAOTA
Expert Mentor: Dr. Melodee Harris Ph.D., RN, APRN
Site Supervisor: Debra Robinson
Blending the Generations is an intergenerational program created by UCA Occupational Therapy student, Ashton Howell, as part of her doctoral capstone project. Currently, the program has nineteen participants- seven from the older generations and twelve from the younger generations. Blending the Generations is designed to bridge the gap between members of different generations. Through activities, conversation, and time spent together, this program connects members of different generations and allows for a better understanding of the other’s thoughts, feelings, and experiences.
Prior to the start of the program, both generation groups participate in an age sensitivity training where common stereotypes and experiences are addressed and discussed. The younger generation participates in activities that simulate hearing loss, visual impairments, and sensory deficits as well as discussion of negative thoughts towards older generations. The older generation engages in discussion, reflection, and true/false activities surrounding negative attitudes towards younger generations. In the first half of the program, participants engage in various activities such as generational trivia, concentric circles, an escape room, Family Feud, and more that require collaboration and communication all while learning about one another. During the last half of the program, participants are matched based on their interests and skills. Together they create an act that is performed in an intergenerational talent show.
Benefits that older adults receive from participation in intergenerational programming include decreased depression and loneliness, increased socialization, and improved overall health. “Elder adults who volunteer with children regularly burned 20% more calories per week, relied less on canes, had fewer falls and exhibited better memory than their peers” (“The Fun and Value,” 2019). Another benefit that intergenerational programs bring is “changes in attitudes and perceptions of both groups towards each other” (Caspar, Davis, McNeill, & Kellett, 2019). Stereotypes often lead to negative perceptions of both younger and older generations. Without engaging with members of other generations, it is often easy to fall into believing the stereotypes. A study by Caspar, et. al., 2019 found that after seven months of engaging with senior adults, youth’s perception of older adults became more positive and stereotypical thoughts were decreased. It is important to address the younger generation’s attitudes and beliefs about older adults as these, along with lack of exposure to older adults, are predictors of healthcare providers’ attitudes toward senior adults (Caspar, et. al., 2019). The current young generations will soon be the current health care providers. It is important that they respect and understand older generations so that they will provide good and fair care.
Blending the Generations is a program designed to not only benefit individuals, but communities as well. Older adults tend to be the victims of negative stigma. Blending the Generations targets those negative perceptions and works to increase the quality of life, health, and community participation of older adults. Instead of focusing on how one generation can help another, Blending the Generations is unique in that it focuses on how both generations can teach and learn from one another.
Participants for the current chapter of the program were recruited from Woodland Heights Baptist Church, the University of Central Arkansas Doctorate of Occupational Therapy program, and through social media efforts. Evaluation of the change in perceptions of different generations is being conducted throughout the entirety of the program. If you are interested in the results of this IRB approved research study, have any questions, or are interested in learning more about Blending the Generations, please contact Ashton Howell at email@example.com.
2019. The fun and value of intergenerational programming. Senior Lifestyle. Retrieved from https://www.seniorlifestyle.com/resources/blog/fun-value-intergenerational- programming/.
Caspar, S., Davis, E., McNeill, D. M. J., & Kellett, P. (2019). Intergenerational Programs: Breaking Down Ageist Barriers and Improving Youth Experiences. Therapeutic Recreation Journal, 53(2), 149–164. https://doi-org.ucark.idm.oclc.org/10.18666/TRJ- 2019-V53-I2-9126