In compiling this issue I became preoccupied with the notion of generations – what defines them and how they interact with each other.
As someone who just scrapes into Generation Y – the Millennials – I was intrigued to see that my Millennial contemporaries are regarded as “entitled”. According to some research on this topic, Millennials “have been told over and over again that they are special, and they expect the world to treat them that way”. We apparently expect fast and immediate processing.
But if you think we sound awful, then take a peek at
Generation Z, a generation of impatient, tech-savvy, brand-conscious consumers. I have two Gen Zers in my household and I can vouch for this trait summary!
The residents of our rest homes and retirement villages are currently members of the Silent generation (also known as the Veterans generation). While they tinkered at the edges of feminism, civil rights and rock’n’roll, this generation is disciplined, self-sacrificing and cautious – a throwback to the suffocating conformity of their formative years. They were loyal to their employers; they are committed in their marriages. ‘Retirement’ for this generation typically means to live your final years in peace.
The thought of throwing members of this generation together with Generation Zers is an interesting prospect and one that is at the heart of many intergenerational initiatives, like Metlifecare’s partnership with the Auckland Kindergarten Association that sees residents engaging in storytelling and craft activities with preschoolers. Such activities are designed to encourage understanding, empathy and curiosity about people much older or younger than themselves.
Will these intergenerational programmes suit the next generation about to enter our facilities and villages? That’s right, the Baby Boomers, the “me” generation, the hippies, the yuppies, the first generation to accept divorce and homosexuality. They see retirement as a time to enjoy all that life has to offer rather than a time to sit back and accept the ageing process. They’ll almost certainly change the way we run our facilities and deliver our care to suit their needs and preferences.
Regardless of when you were born, there is something very humanising about the interaction of generations. Intergenerational initiatives are important in developing a healthy respect for each other and what we each can contribute to this funny old game we call life.
Editor, Jude Barback