Knock knock… the door opens, “Hello Grandma!” One of my favourite parts of the week is when I can connect with my grandma. Out comes the tea and cookies and some small talk about the week. I make sure not to eat lunch beforehand, as I know I will always leave her home more than full. During our conversation she starts to hint that she has troubles with some items in her home. I know she wants me to fix them for her, so once we finish our tea, I am put to work. Fixing things on the computer, putting boxes away into storage, tightening the loose tap in the kitchen, followed by sampling a piece of fresh apple pie.
This experience is unique. Despite nearly 60 years of life experience separating us, we can talk and relate as peers. The question is, why do we have a tendency to separate our communities by age? There are many physical differences between us, however, on an intellectual and emotional level, we are very much the same. A research paper published with the National Centre for Biotechnology Information showed a sample population of people over forty years of age felt 20% younger than their age. This does not make up the age difference between my grandma and I, however it shows that our perceptions may differ from how we feel.
My grandma lives in an age-restricted apartment building. The strata bylaws state you must be at least 55 years of age to live in the building. I look at this and I realize someone decided it was a good idea to separate our generations, but why? The first American age-restricted community was established in 1954 in Youngtown, Arizona. Interestingly, in 1999 the age-restriction in this community was removed. Perhaps they discovered something at that point? Age-restricted buildings are a relatively recent concept. They were built to create independence for seniors, but is it actually creating isolation? Over the past 30 years there has been an increasing number of retirement communities that are promoting multiple generations to come together. This goes back to the way people have lived for thousands of years, connecting all people, creating one community.
From a high level, connecting generations together creates a diverse community. Each generation brings a unique offering, collectively creating a stronger community. Historically humans would learn from their elders, passing down stories and knowledge from generation to generation. This process has been interrupted in our modern world. We now largely use the internet to replace the stories and lessons our elders possess. But what does this do for our emotional connection? The internet holds all the knowledge you likely need, but it cannot provide a truly human experience. Connecting generations creates a mutually beneficial relationship. Everyone gains something from the experience.
This is the foundation that IGEN is built upon. It is not simply a way to put a roof over someone’s head, but rather it is a way of life. Every person needs their independence, freedom, and the ability to pursue their life’s desired. IGEN is a way to enlighten one’s life by putting human connections first. When we have a strong community around us, everyone benefits.
IGEN is a way to bring back what we once had.