For All Ages bridges the gap between generations to foster friendships and decrease loneliness. Their creative programs aim to tackle the epidemic of loneliness by bringing young adults and older adults together to improve social health. Learn more about For All Ages here!
What inspired you to start For All Ages?
For All Ages is dedicated to connecting generations and inspiring action to improve health and wellbeing, limit loneliness, and end ageism. I founded For All Ages in 2019— it began as I watched an older adult family member suffer from loneliness due to his social network shrinking. At the time, I didn’t realize that loneliness was having a detrimental impact on his health. After he died, I dove into research and learned so much about the connection between loneliness and health. I was astounded that the loneliest population is young adults, followed by the elderly. I started brainstorming ideas on how to solve the loneliness crisis by creating fun, positive, collaborative experiences that showcase the vibrancy of both generations.
Can you tell me about your programs and how they tackle loneliness?
During the pandemic, we created what is now our most popular program, Tea at 3. It connects a college aged student with an older adult for a weekly phone conversation over the course of 12 weeks. The Joyful Notes project is about tackling isolation through handmade cards. People around the world send us handmade cards and we distribute them to isolated older adults. Adult living communities and youth groups are brought together for Together We Rock to paint rocks and get to know each other, and the Intergenerational Fishing Derby is when older, experienced anglers teach youth how to fish over the course of a morning. We try to be innovative and thoughtful in bringing these groups together in unorthodox ways that are based on people’s interests.
What are some of the benefits of creating intergenerational communities?
Authentic social connections provide the basis for our health since humans are inherently social beings. Loneliness is a root cause of anxiety, depression, addiction, suicide, gun violence, and can increase the risk of dementia, heart disease, and stroke for older adults. If we can connect socially, we can help one another mitigate those risks. Loneliness and social disconnectedness is a public health crisis, and social connection is a powerful tool that can build resilience and sense of belonging. At For All Ages, young adults have access to mentors and also get to see that vibrancy still exists as we age. If we can get youth thinking more positively about older adults and their own aging process, it will only help improve our health.
What is the best part of your job?
I get to do a little bit of everything and am so grateful to have an awesome group of volunteers who work alongside me everyday. Outside of creating our unique programs, I get to talk to people about the importance of social health and spread awareness of the problem and potential solutions. When groups of people start to connect authentically, that’s what keeps me going.