Baby boomers support wellbeing by connecting with youth

3 Sep, 2015


Creating family dramas, laughing in the snow together, handing down cultural values and crafts are all part of Connecting the Generations. This new section of the Mental Health Foundation’s Boomers website introduces a number of down-to-earth Kiwis and organisations actively engaged in sharing their skills and energy within their families and whanau or in their wider communities. 

The Connecting the Generations stories include organisations such as SuperGrans, which helps people flourish by learning skills such as basic cooking, household management, gardening and sewing, and the Pacific Mamas, who pass on their cultural heritage to hundreds of urban Pacific schoolchildren. There’s a story of new understanding between an ageing father and his daughter as together they disassemble a much-loved garden. Grandmothers Josie and Jo share their wisdom – Josie, like many grandparents, stepped in to bring up her mokopuna after family breakdown, and Jo, who is part of the "sandwich" generation, helping out with grandchildren while caring for her 95-year-old mother who has dementia, both share their wisdom. The Dallows, a close-knit three generational family, are part of a theatre project that involves youngsters and members of a retirement village, and southern man Kevin Harris helps people with disabilities enjoy the snow as part of an adaptive snow sports programme at Cardrona. Expert boomers Dr Cherryl Smith and Dr Ngaire Kerse offer insights into the benefits of positive interaction between the generations, especially in Maori communities and for our "oldest" elders. 

“We know these intergenerational stories will inspire people to continue building their own personal wellbeing strategies as they age,” says Judi Clements, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation.“These humble but inspiring people help us all to realise that we all have something to contribute to other generations – and much to learn from them. 

“People who grow up in different time periods and cultures can have widely differing priorities and ways of looking at the world,” adds Judi. “Positive relationships between generations can help strengthen families and communities, and also counter some of the negative stereotypes we have about ageing in our society. 

“We have an increasing number of people reaching retirement age who are eager to share the skills they’ve acquired over a lifetime, with another generation. This can increase their self-worth and wellbeing, and also help reduce the social isolation and loneliness sometimes associated with ageing.” 

Connecting the Generations will add to the website’s information on laying the foundations for wellbeing in later years. They also reinforce the Five Ways to Wellbeing promoted by the MHF – Connect, Learn, Be Active, Take Notice, and Give. 

The website also includes a recommended reading section, pointers to more in-depth information on ageing and associated topics.  The Mental Health Foundation’s Information Service also holds a number of resources on ageing and can point people in the right direction for more specific information and support.  

For further information or media comment please contact:

Paula Taylor
09 623 4810 x 840
021 300 594