The Society for Social Work and Research

2014 Annual Conference

January 15-19, 2014 I Grand Hyatt San Antonio I San Antonio, TX

The Effects of the Intergenerational Program On Children and the Elders

Saturday, January 18, 2014
HBG Convention Center, Bridge Hall Street Level (San Antonio, TX)
* noted as presenting author
Li-Wen Liu, PhD, Associate Professor, Tunghai University in Taiwan, Taichung City, Taiwan
Ya-Li Lin, PhD, Associate Professor, Tunghai University in Taiwan, Taichung City, Taiwan
Purpose: While the number of elderly people continues to grow, studies indicated that children in current sharply age-segregated society hold stereotypes with negative attitudes toward the elderly. In addition, older adults tend to increase loneliness and meaningless feelings with low self-esteem in their late life. Intergenerational programs serve as opportunities to bring old and young generations back together, which in turn develops children’s positive attitudes toward the elderly. It also provides emotional support for the elderly. The purpose of this paper is to examine the impact of an intergenerational program designed to bring the young and old people together.

Methods: This research included 52 elementary school children with 29 elderly participants from a senior residential facility. It involved 9 shared intergenerational activities over a 9-week program design between May 2012 and August 2012..For comparative purposes, these children were matched by grade with a control group  (n=40) with no activities participation . Applying pretest and posttest experimental design, the authors used 2 scales, including Children’s Perception of Aging and Elderly inventory to assess the effects of cross-age interaction on children’s attitudes toward the elderly and the self-image of the elderly. Older adult and children participants were both tested before and after activities. Also, in addition to implementing on-site observation, in-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with randomly selected children and elderly people of experimental groups as supplement data.

Results: The results showed that intergenerational activities had significant effects on students’ attitudes towards elders. The perceptions of children on the elder participants showed more positive than before. Specifically, children have significantly increased willingness to serve as volunteers in nursing home and visiting older adults who live alone. Outcome data also suggested changes of the elderly in perceived self-image. Especially, older adults have significant decreases on boredom and loneliness, while increasing self-esteem.

Implications and conclusion: This paper shows that intergenerational program facilitate connections between old and young generations. It provides children an opportunity to interact with older people, which in turn changes their negative attitudes toward the elderly. It also helps older adults to decrease loneliness, boredom, and increase their self-esteems as well. This paper addresses the issue of applying intergenerational programs to help elders develop social support system in community. In addition, it discusses the utilization of benefits of intergenerational programs in community care.