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The NSPA Blog

The importance of intergenerational relationships

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Posted on December 3rd, 2018 by Teri Dreher

According to AARP,  millennials make up 25% of the unpaid family caregivers in our country

That’s a big number. As kids, we’re told to respect and care for our elders, so it makes sense that we’re seeing it happen in practice now. Whether for family members or not, my generation seems to be rising to the challenge (at the very least in a micro sense) of caregiving. Certainly with the large increases in the aging population, this is a necessary task. Caregiving alone won’t tackle the issue of solo agers. That’s a complex discussion we try to engage in regularly. What goes less discussed on the matter, though, is the benefits that both caregiver and caree receive from having intergenerational relationships. The importance of intergenerational relationships is huge.

Around my 5th birthday, I mastered the art of the telephone

Or at least, that’s what I thought. Today, cells phone are a ubiquitous part of our society. 25 years ago – not as much. Phone were, of course, extremely common household items. Still, I thought the concept of being able to connect with someone outside of your own physical location was amazing. So, I quickly memorized my favorite phone number and called it frequently. That phone number was my Grandma Ann’s. Not only was she my grandma, she was (and still is) one of my best friends. I would call her every evening to tell her about my day and what I was learning in school. Using the phone was great, but what was even better was the attention and insight my grandma gave me. I have 3 siblings, and as a kid getting the attention of having a conversation with the sole focus on me was a challenge. I was extremely shy, but I loved getting to talk to my grandma. She loved it too. I wasn’t caregiving for her at that point, but I was developing one of the most gratifying relationships I’ll ever have. And so was she.

The importance of intergenerational relationships

The value I’ve gained from having that relationship with my grandma is impossible to put into words. Although I don’t call her every night to tell her about my day anymore, I do try to call her at least once a week. She’s still one of my best friends and favorite people. Every relationship is unique in its own way, but I know that the benefits we’ve both received from our relationship are not isolated or rare. Taken from SeniorCommunity.org, here are a few of the common advantages of intergenerational relationships:

  • Prevention of isolation and loneliness for both parties
  • Providing an organic environment for both old and young to learn from each other
  • A stronger sense of community
  • Promotion of purpose and respect

Here at NShore, it’s our job to protect our clients and guide them through the maze of modern US healthcare. But really, it’s all about relationship building. The relationships between our advocates and clients are ones we value like those of our own family.

What benefits have you received or experienced from intergenerational relationships in your own life? As always, reach out with any questions or comments.


With over 36 years of clinical experience in Critical Care nursing, home based health care and expertise as a cardiovascular nurse clinician, Teri is well acquainted with the complexities of the modern healthcare system. She has served as a nursing leader, mentor, educator, and consistent patient advocate throughout her career in some of the best hospitals across the country. Her passion to keep the patient at the center of the model of nursing care led her to incorporate NShore Patient Advocates, LLC in 2011, serving clients throughout the northern suburbs of Chicago.

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