By the year 2030, 1 in 4
Oregonians will be 65 years or older and this increase in aging populations will undoubtedly impact our systems and communities. Additionally, as this demographic continues to grow, there are several factors that prevent them from living and aging well, such as social isolation
and avoiding preventive care
On the other end of the spectrum, the health and well-being of children has an incredible influence on how they age throughout their lives. “An idea that has stuck with me is that we begin to age the day we are born,” said Peggy Maguire, president of Cambia Health Foundation. “As a society, too much of our planning and funding is conducted in silos. There is a scarcity model that often pits young children and older adults against each other for scarce resources.”
It was with these concepts in mind that Cambia Health Foundation, along with Oregon AARP
, created Generations Together
, a collaborative network for change. The vision of Generations Together is that by 2030, all generations of Oregonians will be more connected, valued, and have equitable access to the resources needed to live and age well together. The network will act as a gathering place to share best practices and influence systemic changes to promote equitable well-being.
“With Generations Together, we wanted to include all generations, recognizing our mutual interdependence, acknowledging past and present inequities and the unique contributions of each generation,” said Maguire. “This includes reframing aging as an asset rather than a drain on society.”
Since its inception, additional organizations have joined the group including include Bridge Meadows
, the Children’s Institute
, Our Children Oregon
and the Coalition of Communities of Color
“We believe that each generation has something to offer and that the generations can learn from each other and solve problems together,” said Maguire.
Inspired by others
The concept of bringing generations together to address multiple challenges is an innovative concept that others are also exploring across the globe. Below are two examples that we’re inspired by, in their own words:
The Friendship Bench project
is an evidence-based intervention developed in Zimbabwe to bridge the mental health treatment gap. The Friendship Bench aims to enhance mental well-being and improve quality of life through the use of problem-solving therapy delivered by trained [community members], focusing on people who are suffering from common mental health disorders, such as anxiety and depression. Uniquely, the Friendship Bench uses ”grandmothers” to deliver the therapy. These grandmothers are community volunteers, without any prior medical or mental health experience, who are trained to counsel patients for six structured 45-minute sessions, on wooden benches within the grounds of clinics in a discrete area.
Bridge Meadows: A Multigenerational Housing Community
uses the power of community to help children heal from the trauma of foster care. Their program includes high-quality affordable housing, therapeutic programs, and intergenerational community support. Elders live in the community, serving as mentors, friends, and caregivers to the children and each other, forming a safety net of care and interdependence. The program improves quality of life for all three generations: children, parents, and elders.