These days, I often trawl through the TV channels and, if there is anything I think may be interesting, I record it or catch it on 'Replay' and one of my 'finds' was When Teenage meets Old Age. For anyone who hasn't seen it, four young people volunteer to work in a retirement village, where they encounter a range of people, ranging from those who are fairly independent to those needing a high degree of support. The series seems to have been sparked by the growing trend for the elderly to live in isolation from the rest of society and, in particular, from the young. I was struck by the statistic that, in the seventies, one in three of the elderly lived with their family, whereas now, it is closer to one in ten. Retirement villages provide a safe and secure environment for older people but it is often at the expense of contact with the rest of society. Similarly, the fact that the young have less contact with the old has led to a increasing degree of suspicion and disregard on their part.
The old think young people are noisy, selfish, ill-mannered and are often afraid of them, while youngsters view old people as unimportant, judgemental and a waste of space.
Obviously the makers of this series had their own agenda and will have been selective in the footage they used but, looking beyond this, there is evidence of seeds of genuine respect, understanding and affection between the two groups. Of course, they have their good and bad moments, but it is heartening to see that it is possible to build bridges between these two age groups. They just need to get to know each other and the more this experiment can be replicated, the greater the opportunities for each to learn from the other.
And that can only benefit both.