Why We All Need Intergenerational Friendship In Our Lives

By Ruth Wilson

daisy-daisy / Alamy Stock Photo

Everyone is still talking about the Will Smith/Chris Rock incident at the Oscars a few weeks ago, but for me there was another defining moment.

As Lady Gaga introduced Liza Minnelli to the public, she supported and cared for her in an incredibly moving way. Minnelli was clearly a bit vulnerable and confused, but Gaga wasn’t dating her in any way — she professionally kept the show going while showing Minnelli respect and affection. The two stars are both musical icons and award-winning actresses, but more than that, they’re clearly friends – and the young singer has made sure the older actress maintains her dignity and takes full advantage of the occasion. And rightly so! The older generation should be respected and loved – and recognized as great potential friends.

I have a cross-generational friendship and cannot recommend it highly enough.

Brenda is over 80 and one of the most fabulous characters in my life. Every two weeks, we get together: I go to her house or I take her shopping or for a coffee. It’s a formal arrangement, made through a company called Good Life Sorted – but it’s an absolute pleasure and I look forward to it as soon as I leave.

There are over 3.5million older people living alone in the UK and many of them don’t go out very often, either because they physically can’t or because they don’t have confidence in them. It is up to younger and stronger people to provide the companionship that might help alleviate loneliness and the confidence to go out or at least stay home a bit longer, with independence and dignity.

And these young people can benefit so much from it! Brenda is a hoot. She looks like the queen! She brings in me, her hairdresser, and her housekeeper at different times, but she maintains her own social life.

I loved the idea of ​​helping others, but had no idea how rewarding it would be for me when I first signed up. Older people have had such different experiences, so taking the time to listen to their stories provides an alternative perspective and perspective on things – sometimes needed in this world of social media bubbles. There is attention to being a helper: it slows down the pace a bit – having tea, listening to stories, watering the plants or doing the dishes. That doesn’t sound very exciting, but in a chaotic and quite stressful world (I work for the NHS!), it benefits me as much as Brenda.

Some cultures respect their elders more. Good Life Sorted was founded by a Greek man inspired by his elderly grandmother. She lived in her own house in a remote village, alone, until the late 90s, thanks to the support of her local community. In the UK it is sometimes easier to miss the people who need us most and could benefit us the most.

I hope I have intergenerational friendships in my older years. We all need a Lady Gaga in our lives!

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