In the last six months, I have been so inspired by the significant progress and attention to the portion of the Encore Movement referred to as “purposeful aging”. In late 2016, the Milken Institute’s Center for the Future of Aging convened a powerful “Purposeful Aging” summit that brought together national thought leaders, policy makers, academia, philanthropists and media to talk about the future of aging. The report highlights that our society continues to pigeonhole 60+ years old as a time of decline and disability. A sad commentary if ever there was one!
However, on an encouraging note, the Milken Institute defined the need to change the culture of aging for individuals and to create a new future vision that promotes the many benefits of purposeful aging. This vision shows the world the many assets older adults possess to make our nation stronger through social action. This report has many valuable and deep layers of information, research and ideas. I will spend several future blog posts addressing some of these important areas.
WHEN TWO GENERATIONS COME TOGETHER
Today, I want to focus on one part of the report that covers the many benefits and opportunities for bringing together the young and the old. It was not by accident that another group of national thought leaders gathered at the Stanford Longevity Center to explore how older experienced adults can play a critical role in the lives of children and youth. This conference resulted in another ground breaking report, “Hidden in Plain Sight: How Intergenerational Relationships Can Transform Our Future”. It seems that different generations can fit together like a jig saw puzzle.
To start, let’s look at our youth where 55% of adolescents and 40% of younger children do not have the support of caring adults in their homes, schools and community. The Stanford Report pointed out that all young adults require non-cognitive emotional skills including critical thinking, problem solving, social interactions and teamwork to successfully link to life and academic success. This is where older adults can easily aid.
At the same time, the second largest generation in history has the time and inclination to give back and live their lives on purpose. They seek and need to provide meaning and positive impact for others. The research from this report cited, “The key ingredient for success in life, is the commitment of a non-parental adult to a youth’s well-being. Nothing is more important than the fate of our youth in human kind future and older adults are the key to elevating the health, education and prosperity of young people. “
Increased longevity and healthier lifestyles are other important benefits for older adults working with younger generations. A recent study of intergenerational volunteerism found that older adults have a heightened sense of well-being along with reduced risk of hypertension and lower mortality. So, the bottom line is… doing good can be good for YOU and for future generations!
Encore.org recently conducted a nationwide survey to determine the viability of bringing generations together. The result overwhelmingly showed that people of all generations see the important value of intergenerational relationships to link their own sense of purpose with the well-being of future generations.
In November 2016, Encore.org launched the Generation to Generation social action campaign as a win-win-win opportunity to strengthen the lives of older adults while addressing the needs of our youth and the agencies that serve youth. Over the next five years, Encore.org has set a goal of recruiting one million adults over 50+ to play an active role in helping to lift the youth in our country. Encore.org is partnering with national organizations such as AARP, National Senior Corps, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boys and Girls Club, Alliance for Strong Families and Children, and VolunteerMatch.org to achieve this goal. These important organizations are looking to engage and connect older adults with our nation’s youth.
So, what does “purpose in action” look like? In all three reports and surveys done by Milken, Stanford and Encore, the solutions and recommendations all point to the incredible opportunities the older generation has to impart hard-earned lessons to the younger generation through mentoring. The beauty of mentoring is that it works both ways – those who are mentors end up learning as much as those who are the recipients of the mentoring!
Mentoring does not happen automatically. To help, Encore.org has set up a new five-year social action campaign that provides the framework for successful mentorship matches by working closely with agencies serving youth and volunteers.
ENCORE TAMPA BAY’S ROLE
Encore Tampa Bay is so excited to be a part of the Generation to Generation Campaign. Encore Tampa Bay is ready to put Purpose and Action together to strengthen the future generations of Tampa Bay! We will share success stories, and the many ways that you can get involved with this social action campaign. You can start this journey by going to the website www.generationtogeneration.org to learn more about the campaign and how you can find local agencies serving youth that need your talent, time and experience.
“We envision a future where the second half of adulthood is dedicated to supporting the next generation in ways that benefit old and young alike. “ Encore.org