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ECHO OF GENERATIONS Endowing intergenerational relations – contacts between the oldest old and young people

Principal Investigators: Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Andreas Kruse, Dr. Sonja Ehret, Prof. Dr. Eric Schmitt
Research Group: Dr. Sonja Ehret (coordination and contact)
Student assistants: Miriam Fehmann, Philipp Kempf M.A., Peter Gyulveszi B.A
Period: 01.07.2014 – 30.11.2016
Financed by: Dietmar Hopp Stiftung

Wie die Jugend der Vorzüge des hohen Alters gewahr wird und das Alter durch die Vorzüge der Jugend belebt wird. 14. September 2016, Neue Aula

Model Communities:

Wiesloch City: Local senior council, Bertha Benz Secondary School, Civic Foundation Wiesloch
Lobbach Community: Burgomaster department
Buchen City: eva – senior services, Burghardt High school, Helene Weber school
Speyer City: Senior Buero, Friedrich-Magnus-Schwerd High School, Diakonissen School

Project Description:

When I’ve lived so long, I must have learned something and have comprehised a lot of. I should try to pass what I’ve comprehised and make available for those who need it.

Mrs. V., 89 years old, Generali Study of the oldest Old, Institute of Gerontology Heidelberg

Here sits someone who is age-old, has a tremendous knowledge and will pass this knowledge on.

Mrs. B., 88 years old, Generali Study oft the oldest Old, Institute of Gerontology Heidelberg

The need to care for others and to feel useful and being needed rises with age resp. changes in later life. However, this need is not always called up by society as we found out in the Generali Study oft he oldest Old.  

The experience to get in a fruitful dialog or encounter with subsequent generations belongs to such human experiences which enrich or  fulfill the old and oldest age most. In this experiences and insights old people find a potential of old age by itself. They perceive a form of generativity which includes the potential generating new things or situations. Indeed we found in Germany no scientific praxis projects with the aim to create opportunity structures for an interexchange between very old people and subsequent generations.
On the other side general theoretical studies show that the intergenerational dialog, conversations, encounters and learning between young and old crystallizes as development supporting. Against this background we would create and evaluate scientifically intergenerational projects and contexts in those both the development of the young (through systematic use of experiences and competences of the old) as well as the development of the old (through new possibilities of care for younger persons and life fulfillment) are supported.
In five model communes we conduct daseinsthematical interviews with very old people (with health status from very good till need of care) and young people between 12 and 18 years old. Criterion for the project participation is an interest in intergenerational relations. From the findings out of the interviews and the individual experiences of participants we would develop, offer and evaluate concrete opportunities of care, companionship, dialogs, passing of experiences and common activities between young and old, preferably in dyads.
In each commune we work on an other ontogenetic development theme. The themes range from questions about concepts of life or purposes of life, old age and meaning of life, caring community as a political task, grandparenthood and sequences of generations to the point of questions about faith and spirituality.


Project aims:

Forms and manners of generative self creation and world creation should be identified in different age groups as pictures of age should be drawed new.
Through intergenerative communication and interaction bondings and friedships to the oldest old should be established strengthening the resilience of the younger people.
Finally, the project pursue the aim, to point out the merits and benefits of each life stage for mankind and society and prove them scientifically. Such encompassed intergenerational contexts should be established sustainably.  


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Latest Revision: 2017-01-10
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