LeadingAge and Generations United are using funds from The Retirement Research Foundation to explore the characteristics and benefits of intergenerational programming in senior housing properties. The 12-month project will involve both quantitative and qualitative research with LeadingAge housing members and other members of the broader senior housing community.  

About the Study

Researchers from Generations United and the LeadingAge Center for Applied Research (CFAR) will be collecting information from housing properties that are currently implementing or have recently implemented intergenerational programs. They will also be contacting housing properties that are interested in implementing intergenerational programs in the future.

By the end of the grant period, researchers hope to know more about:

  • How many senior housing providers are implementing intergenerational programs and practices;
  • The characteristics of these programs and practices; 
  • The benefits of intergenerational programming;
  • Barriers to implementation of these programs; and
  • Promising practices that can foster the replication of successful intergenerational work in senior housing, with a particular focus on the affordable housing setting.

Researchers also hope their work will lay the foundation for a more rigorous implementation and evaluation study.

Current Literature on Intergenerational Programming

Intergenerational programs have the potential to promote greater understanding and respect between generations and contribute to building more cohesive communities, says Dr. Taryn Patterson, a research policy associate at CFAR.

According to Patterson, research suggests that intergenerational programs can:

  • Decrease social isolation among older adults;
  • Increase elders' sense of belonging, self-esteem, and well-being; and
  • Address ageism in the wider community.

“Senior housing can be an ideal platform for high-quality intergenerational work because it provides economies of scale that can ensure sustainability,” says Patterson. “These programs can help expand the social networks of older adults, create meaningful civic engagement opportunities, and build social capital within the broader community.”