Posted on Jun 23, 2022
A new report, ‘Unifying Generations: Building the Pathway to Intergenerational Solidarity’ claims to demonstrate the need to change perceptions of the value of people aged over-65 and their cohesion with younger generations.
“The European population is ageing. By 2040, 155 million people are expected to be over 651 . This demographic change is often referred to as a challenge, which gives a misleading and negative impression of the contributions of over-65s to the society,” commented Jean Luc Lemercier, Corporate Vice President, EMEA, Canada and Latin America, Edwards Lifesciences which published the study.
The study is based on a survey of 12,850 Europeans across generations,
“The survey results demonstrate that the senior population, and especially the pivotal 3rd generation, is an active, committed and engaged contributor to cohesion within families and the community.”
To provide insights on the role of the senior population in society and the benefits of intergenerational interactions, Edwards Lifesciences joined forces with experts to conduct a survey examining the perceptions and experience of intergenerational solidarity of 12,850 citizens across 6 European countries (France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, and the UK). The results formed the basis of the newly available Unifying Generations report.
In contrast to existing perceptions, the survey results highlighted the significant social contributions of the 3 rd generation. They contribute to their families and communities, through volunteering (19%) and providing care to others (24%).
Seventy-one percent (71%) of over-65s also provide significant financial support to younger people.
Younger generation respondents stated how important they felt the support the older generation provided was in their day-to-day lives, with 83% stating it was very important or somewhat important.
“The Unifying Generations Survey gives an accurate picture of the current situation of intergenerational solidarity in several European countries. The results of this survey show a strong desire for more intergenerational interactions from both younger and older generations. The survey also presents the great value of listening, mentoring and coaching; contributing to community well-being through volunteering; sharing knowledge of new technology and digital skills; and many other ways of encouraging cooperation in a society for all ages.
The survey data is a useful reference document that will encourage social organisations to promote intergenerational solidarity programs at local, national and international levels in European countries,” commented Mr. Angel Yagüe Criado, Project Manager, The Spanish Confederation of Older People’s Association (CEOMA).
Results showed that the pandemic seems to have had a negative impact on intergenerational interaction, with 40% of respondents saying they spend less time with different generations since the pandemic.2 However, one of the most positive themes that emerged from the report was the willingness to improve intergenerational interactions.
Respondents were 11 times more likely to think closer relations between different generations are a good thing (77%) vs. a bad thing (7%). 2 In fact, 92% of survey respondents confirmed they were open to having a friend from a different generation. “The study suggests that extremely positive and varied intergenerational interactions are present in society and also valued by all age groups.
It’s important that policies and strategies are developed that help maintain and strengthen these relations going forward,” said Prof George W Leeson, Professorial Fellow, Oxford Institute of Population Ageing, University of Oxford.
A number of different benefits of improving intergenerational interactions were also highlighted. The most important benefits identified were companionship or friendship (20%) and mental and emotional wellbeing (19%).
Additionally, 23% of younger respondents believe that mentoring or educational schemes provided by national or local government would help them to do more with older generations.
The report recommends three actions that can be considered as a result of the survey findings. They are: a campaign to transform perceptions of the value of senior people and their interactions with younger generations, greater opportunities for mentoring and knowledge sharing from older to younger generations; and schemes that help senior people interact more digitally.
“Recognising and celebrating the knowledge, skills, and experiences of senior people is at the heart of the report and of promoting intergenerational solidarity,” added Jean-Luc Lemercier.
“As we build back after the pandemic, we should change perceptions of the value our senior populations – particularly the pivotal 3rd generation – provide to society and the importance of protecting their health and well-being.”
Image: By Catharsis1990 - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/...
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