It’s not all bad news this Blue Monday [20 January]. At a time when there are increasing concerns about levels of loneliness among older people and reports of a growing generational divide, polling commissioned by Methodist Homes (MHA), the largest provider of care, accommodation and support services for older people across Britain shows a heartening chink of light.
Almost half (48%) of 22-35 year-olds polled spend time with someone aged 65+ who they are not related to – like a neighbour or friend – every week, challenging the idea of growing divisions between older and younger generations, and revealing that older people are a trusted source of wisdom for millennials.
Of respondents who know someone aged 65+ or have a living grandparent, almost two thirds (64%) turn to them for advice, with one in 10 (12%) doing it all the time. Of respondents who would value advice around living a fulfilling life from someone aged 65+, the most popular topics are general life advice (73%), relationships (45%) and money (41%).
And it seems there’s the appetite for more contact, with 70% agreeing they would like to spend even more time with people aged 65 and over.
The poll coincides with the launch of MHA’s Words of Wisdom campaign with older people the charity supports sharing their life advice gained with age. These words of wisdom are being shared on social media including Instagram and Twitter with the aim of bringing younger and older people together even more and encouraging more contact between the age groups.
MHA Chief Executive Sam Monaghan says:
“It is widely accepted that we have an epidemic of loneliness in the UK today, not just among older people, but younger people too, so it’s heartening to know just how much millennials value the company and experience of older people.
“The public hear so little from most older people in our society, particularly those in care settings. As a charity, we provide community support services that help address the loneliness some older people face. But tackling isolation is something we must do together, which is why we’re encouraging younger generations to have more conversations with the older people in their lives or to look for new opportunities to connect. We are investing in working with the next generation through our work with youth groups and schools as well as providing employment and volunteering opportunities to further strengthen intergenerational bonds. Befriending initiatives like our own community volunteering, is a meaningful way to make a difference in someone’s life. And it’s not just older generations that benefit from this contact. The younger people who work and volunteer at our care homes, retirement living and Live at Home schemes in communities say they get just as much from it.”
Radio and television presenter Gloria Hunniford OBE, who supports the MHA Words of Wisdom campaign, calls on younger generations to reach out and connect. She says:
“Even small acts like having a chat and a cuppa with a neighbour who is older, can have a huge impact on strengthening bonds. That’s why I’m supporting the Words of Wisdom campaign. It aims to bridge the gap between young people and older generations and inspire greater communication. Only then can younger generations receive the nuggets of wisdom from older generations that will help them live fulfilling lives. I applaud MHA for running this campaign and giving a voice to older people, particularly in care settings who so often are not heard.”
Words of Wisdom from the people MHA supports include:
“When I was young, I used to go to a lot of parties. I still like partying now and being with people. So, my advice is – never give up partying!” – Muriel (101)
“Never put your wishbone where your backbone ought to be.” – Agnes (96)