Britain is one of the world’s most age-segregated countries, according to a report by United for All Ages. It says ‘people often have little contact with other generations outside their own families.’
What is the impact of age segregation on the individual and society?
Ageism impacts all aspects of people’s health: physical, social, mental and exacerbates other forms of disadvantage. There is an economic toll on individuals and society and we need to find ways to combat generational divides. In their ‘Combating Ageism’ campaign, The World Health Organisation recommends intergenerational interventions. By that they mean programmes that foster interaction between generations. Stephen Burke, a director at United for All Ages, said:
“Bringing Britain together is one of the biggest challenges for the new decade. The last decade saw huge disconnection and division….More mixing between the generations is the way to build trust and understanding across our communities and our country. To make it happen requires not just vision and ambition, but also political will and leadership locally and nationally.”
It was whilst working at a busy advertising agency and seeing first-hand how working parents struggled to find flexible and reliable childcare that Adele Aitchison, GrandNanny Co-Founder, came up with the idea to start a social enterprise that provided age-friendly employment and childcare for working families. GrandNanny was born. The aim – to match working families with midlife+ neighbours to provide rewarding jobs and reliable childcare. Often GrandNannies have over 15 years of childcare experience, most have raised their own families and many are ex-Teachers, Teaching Assistants or Nursery Practitioners. The result is that parents get a local childcarer with a lifetime of experience. And since they are generally more settled, and less likely to move, midlife+ childcarers offer a long-term solution, sticking with families as they grow.
What are the benefits of fostering relationships between the generations?
Studies show older adults mixing with pre-school children increase their social interactions. Social interactions being classed as smiles and conversations. And why is that important? Well, social interaction is shown to reduce loneliness, delay mental health decline and lower blood pressure. Mixing with younger generations makes you more physical, keeping you active for longer.
Alarmingly, a global study by Ipsos MORI found `Britons are overwhelmingly negative about ageing with just 30% of UK adults saying ‘they are looking forward to getting old’. So it’s not just the older generation who benefit from intergenerational connections. Children, who these days are spending less time with grandparents than previous generations, benefit from improved social skills, age empathy, raised attainment and an improved ability to solve tough issues.
Age-friendly employment and closing the pension gap.
A Publication by the Centre for Ageing Better found that ‘older workers are at greater risk of long-term unemployment. And ‘2 out of 5 older workers say that they are concerned that their finances will get worse as a result of the pandemic’. With that in mind GrandNanny’s Co-Founders, Adele and Sarah, hope that GrandNanny will provide age-friendly employment and for many women, who stepped back from a career for care duties, a way to help reduce their pension gap. And as Alaistair Bryce-Clegg, an Early Years education consultant involved in the Channel 4 programme ‘Old People’s Home for 4-Year-Olds’, pointed out,
‘Intergenerational care also offers opportunities beyond young children and older people, with teenagers and parents also experiencing benefits of cross-generational mixing’.
So do yourself a favour, hire a GrandNanny and not only sort out your personal childcare issues but do good for society at the same time.