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Ongoing studies on intergenerational relationships are showing that it does. In schools where older adults regularly volunteer in classrooms, the children actually score higher in reading. In a program with elderly Alzheimer’s patients, those who participated together with college students in exercise sessions experienced a mood boost and held steady in cognitive decline.
The more the elderly spend time with the youth in their lives, the more both generations benefit. Other overall health benefits to forming stronger relationships across the years include:
Strengthened immune system. For both older and younger individuals, social interaction and physical activities reduce stress hormones and build the body’s natural defenses to fight off illness and disease.
Increased skills and knowledge. Seniors learn about computer and technology innovations from youth to keep more engaged in society. Older adults share their wisdom and life experiences to mentor the younger.
Greater emotional and social intelligence. Children and youth who interact with seniors develop greater communication and social skills and a more positive self-esteem. Elders feel a greater sense of belonging.
Renewed sense of purpose in life. Older adults feel less isolated and sense their continued usefulness to others and their community.
Increased social interaction between older and younger individuals also brings out more smiles, which lowers stress, blood pressure and heart rate.