Age and Youth in Action

Age-Integrated Society

Creating an Age-Integrated Society

What can we learn from other cultures that treat elders with respect and honor?

How can a young person learn from an older person?

How can an old person learn from a younger person?

Is it important to have intergenerational relationships?

What is meant by the phrase “age-integrated society”? It may be defined as one in which the designation and identification of age groups—youth, middle-age, old-age – serve to bring those of different ages together to the maximum feasible extent. In other words, any awareness of differences among age groups leads to “age appropriateness” in services and group relations. In addition, an age-integrated society is one in which:

There is an atmosphere that supports intergenerational contact and unity as well as genuine economic independence for all age groups. National policies do not segregate or stigmatize people as a result of their age and do not place them in dependent and depersonalized positions. Social policy-making is shared among all age-groups. Social status is not based on chronological age. National policy honors the social contract between generations.

This came from a prepared issue paper for the Minnesota Regional White House Conference on Aging Forums, fall 1980—Creating An Age-Integrated Society.

Societal Issues To Ponder
  • Does being call the “sandwich generations” concern you? What analogy works better for you?Analysis: When you have a sandwich, rarely is one made with two different kinds of bread; if it were common practice, this kind of sandwich analogy might work. However, for us, this analogy is a harmful one—for the middle generation’s responsibilities, obligations, and roles are very different when thinking of their children’s needs and their parent’s needs. To treat them the “same” is not respectful of their differences. Elders in the family and children in the family require exceptionally different responses from the adult in the middle.
  • What do you think of seniors only housing communities?Analysis: Separating people by age isolates people from each other, creates misunderstanding and fosters stereotypes. The most effective way to build understanding is for people to spend time with each other. In age segregated communities you narrow the possibilities for sharing different skills, abilities and perspectives.
Other Issues To Ponder – What’s Your Analysis?
  • How does social security promote or hinder an age integrated society?
  • What impact does lengthy deployment of National Guard units have on the community, when the members are parents, business owners, or holding jobs?
  • Does our current private health care system provide effective services across all ages, or does it favor one group over another?
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Questions to Ponder
Words of Wisdom
Actions to Take