From Linda Priestley, Editor-in-Chief
We’ve often mentioned in these pages the importance of intergenerational bonds: without the experience of one generation or the adventurous spirit of another, not to mention all the individual qualities each has to offer at any age, there’s something missing.
Given Canada’s aging population (the number of people over the age of 85 is expected to triple by 2045 to nearly 2.5 million, according to Statistics Canada), the challenge ahead is considerable on all fronts: health care, social services, the job market, etc. Aging well is something we need to work on together.
Several countries have acted to provide more opportunities to bring the generations together. Sweden, for example, a champion of multi-generational cohabitation, has for a long time endorsed this trend. In Japan, the young and not-so-young take part in Fureai Kippu, a system in which which people earn “time credits” when they provide care for others that can be exchanged later to secure care for themselves. The United Kingdom’s government, meanwhile, includes a Minister of Loneliness, whose main task is to bring together and support single people of all ages.
Canada is also engaged in this effort, as is demonstrated by the New Horizons for Seniors grant program, the goal of which is to help communities start projects aimed at encouraging the inclusion of older adults.
All of these great initiatives would, however, be less successful without the contribution of an invaluable daily resource: friendship. Even with a 40-year gap, a friendship between two people of different ages is an asset that gives meaning to our lives, says Marc Schulz, an American psychologist and co-author of the book The Good Life: Lessons From the World’s Longest Scientific Study of Happiness. Generally speaking, younger people tend to trust the advice of their elders (and that often goes both ways), while older adults feel energized in the presence of younger people.
In this post-COVID era—when many of the rules have changed, war is raging in Ukraine and Israel (among other places), unusual climate events follow one after another, and anxiety is increasing among students—friendship, when it goes hand in hand with diversity, can be a source of comfort for everyone. Let’s make the most of it!