Multi-Generational Relationships

Multi-Generational Relationships"The respect and care for the elderly, which has been one of the few constants in human culture everywhere, reflects a basic interplay between self-preserving and society-preserving impulses which has conditioned the survival and progress of the human race" (International Plan of Action on Ageing, para. 27).

Traditional self-preserving and society-preserving impulses are being challenged by demographic trends and other societal changes, giving rise to a need for new intergenerational exchanges in the family, local community and national society, including in the areas of care-giving, income security and cultural definition.

The family is the first and most intimate level of multi- generational relationship, where all tend to invest in one another and share in the fruits of that investment; it has been termed the "first resource and last resort" for its members. Families, however, are experiencing demographic, cultural and socio-economic changes with implications for intra-familial relationships, including in care- giving. The changes both challenge and bring opportunities to multi- generational relationships.

Communities can facilitate multi-generational relationships, both within neighbourhoods and between special interest groups. Though undergoing change, the neighbourhood community is usually age-integrated, making interactions between its younger and older members a matter of daily routine. Communities of special interest, such as organizations of elders or youth, can establish new relationships in addressing community concerns such as safety, environmental protection, cultural enrichment, income-generation and others. Communities can also facilitate communications between younger and older generations, particularly in the exchange of new and old technologies and new and traditional lifestyles.

At the national level, many developed countries are currently revising multi-generational exchanges, including the provision of social insurance and pensions, underscoring the importance for countries which are ageing later to develop their own appropriate national-level exchanges between the generations to ensure a multi- generational consensus within society.