When you look at your group of friends, how much diversity do you see? You likely have different interests and backgrounds, but it's common to stick to friends within your own generation. Expanding your circle to include younger friends can offer many benefits.
Feelings of loneliness affect over one-third of adults 45 and older. When it comes to ages 65 and older, almost one-fourth are socially isolated, which increases the risk of premature death, dementia, depression and anxiety. Living at LifeStream at Youngtown helps you avoid social isolation, but adding younger friends to your life can help you combat loneliness even more. Spending time with younger friends gives you something to look forward to and adds to your connections to make you feel less lonely.
As the older person in the relationship, you have a lot of life experience and skills to share with younger friends. You can give them a real-life account of historical events they've only read about in history books. If you worked in a career field they're in, you might serve as a mentor for them. When they go through challenging life experiences, you can give them advice or recount similar experiences you had in your younger days.
Your younger friends can also teach you a thing or two. Perhaps you want to use more technology but don't feel comfortable with it. Your younger counterpart can teach you things like how to video chat with your grandchildren or shop online. They might have a unique hobby they can teach you to add a little fun and joy to your life.
It's easy to develop a similar life perspective when you're surrounded by people from the same generation. Everyone has their own opinions, but going through similar world experiences can make you see things similarly. Getting to know younger people can help you see things from a different perspective. It can open your mind to different ways of thinking. You might see new trends in a more positive light or start to approach problems from a different point of view.
A related benefit of seeing things from a youthful perspective is increased understanding and empathy. Some people view youth as troublemakers or too progressive. You might make assumptions about younger generations that turn out to be false.
Listening to a younger friend helps you understand how they see the world and the issues they're facing. You might realize their challenges aren't that different from the ones you faced at their age. You might also better understand some of the behaviors you see in younger people once you hear their perspective. This can grow empathy for different generations. It can help bridge the gaps in the generations to create more unity. As more people build intergenerational friendships, increased empathy and unity within the community can make it a better place as a whole.
Comparisons between friends of similar ages are common. You might compare your financial situation to those of your older friends, or you might be envious of the close relationships they have with their grandchildren that you don't have. Younger people might feel like they're behind if their friends have a better career or a family while they're still waiting for those things. Comparing yourself to others can lead to unhappiness and anxiety.
You're less likely to make these comparisons with intergenerational relationships because you're at completely different points in life. You're likely retired, so your younger friends won't compare their current career status to yours, for instance. This lack of comparison can help you simply enjoy the friendship without feeling envious or anxious. It can reduce the pressure you feel when you're around the person.
It's natural to feel like you're slowing down as you get older. You might not feel like you have as much spring in your step, and you might have lower energy levels. Perhaps you don't get as excited about things in life. Younger people often bring a youthful energy to friendships. You might start to feel more energized when you're around them, or you might find their enthusiasm for life contagious. Perhaps they keep you active with the activities you do together, which makes it easier for you to increase your step count and work in more physical activity.
If your older age has limited your abilities, a younger friend can often be helpful when you're out and about. For instance, if you go on outings together, they can help get a walker out of the car and assist you when needed. If you have visual challenges, they can help you navigate when you're out in public, or they might read a book to you if you both enjoy literature and want a different activity to enjoy together. Older friends might have similar limitations and often can help you as much as a younger person could.
Seniors of faith can share their beliefs with younger friends. This can help you strengthen your walk with God while inspiring a younger generation to develop their faith. Sharing your faith can also create a stronger bond and develop fellowship.