Understanding differences builds intergenerational relationships

Kids these days. They don’t appreciate what life was like back in the good old days, just like seniors don’t always accept current societal changes. Today’s youth have a different perspective from the senior members of society, and the two groups of people don’t always see eye to eye. Generational differences create distance between younger generations and their elders. This gap can translate to misunderstandings and frustrations in personal and professional relationships, especially for people working closely with elderly home care. Understanding how each generation views the world based on their life experiences helps overcome the separation and connect people of all ages.

Traditionalists

Traditionalists were born before 1945 before generational studies were common areas of analysis. This generation was caught in between the pain and loss of war, which lead to a general sense of powerlessness. People in this generation worked whatever job they could find and had low expectations for their careers.

Baby Boomers

Baby Boomers are people born in between 1946 and 1964. This is the first group of people to be studied and labeled as a generation. Baby Boomers grew up in a post-war era of optimism and consumerism. This generation was able to take advantage of new technology in home appliances and cars. A growing economy made it easy for Baby Boomers to find work in the 60s and 70s, but their large numbers blocked the job market for younger generations. This generation is more educated than their parents and was the first to grow up with television.

Generation X

Born between 1965 and 1981, Generation X is well-educated, but they suffered from a weak economy and poor job market. These circumstances and crises such as the Cold War lead to general cynicism and feelings of insecurity about their careers. Civil unrest also influenced Gen X as they grew up in an environment with increasing violent crimes, corrupt politics and other social problems. Computer advancements during this time made Generation X the first to be proficient in computer skills. They are generally hard working with conservative values. Many are homeowners and online shoppers but prefer to get their news from newspapers and TV broadcasts. A big focus for Generation X is saving for retirement with 401(k) plans, IRAs, and social security.

Millennials

The dreaded Millennials or Generation Y were born in between 1981 and 1996. These people have grown up with color TV, Internet and a proliferation of other technologies. They’re highly educated, with higher college completion rates than previous generations. As employees, Millennials value interesting work that’s flexible enough to fit their lifestyles. They prioritize people and a company’s purpose over profits and business success. Money is not as much of a motivating factor for Millennials, whose views have been shaped by the Great Recession, the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and massive student debt.

 

With high student loans, many people in Gen Y are hesitant to acquire more debt, and therefore are less likely to make big purchases like homes and cars. Millennials are getting married and settling down later than their parents because of the environment in which they grew up. Once they do settle, Generation Y has many similarities in employment and spending patterns compared with previous generations.

Generation Z

People born after 1996 are part of iGen or Generation Z. They’ve grown up with technology integrated into their lives, which has impacted their outlook on life. Although we’re still learning about the newest generation, Gen Z is generally seen as less focused, better at multi-tasking and more entrepreneurial. They also value individualism and have a more global perspective than previous generations.

 

Understanding generational differences makes it easier for people of all ages to relate to each other. We’re all influenced by the environment in which we grow up, which affects our attitudes, values, and views on the world. Listening to kids these days and sharing the stories about life “when I was your age” helps bridge the gap from traditionalists to Generation Z and everyone in between.