Understanding the Impact of GrandPals on Older Adult Participants

Leibowitz, Nicole
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University of Guelph

This community-engaged research project explored the experiences of 11 older adults, between the ages of 61 and 99, involved in GrandPals, a school-based, service-learning, intergenerational program. Participants shared their experiences through face-to-face interviews. An inductive thematic analysis approach was used to analyze the data. Through the thematic analysis, four themes were identified: Connections, Reciprocity and the Role of Age, Reminiscence and Reflection, and It Takes Work: Investments into an Intergenerational Program. Participants described the meaningful connections they formed with the students. Moreover, participants highlighted how GrandPals provides an opportunity for a reciprocal exchange of knowledge and experiences between younger and older people. Participants also spoke about the reflection and reminiscence which occurred through GrandPals. Finally, while participants had a positive experience, they acknowledged the amount of work and varying investments required to be involved in an intergenerational program. Through revisiting the questions guiding this research, several additional patterns were identified. Overall, participants had a positive experience in GrandPals. Participants shared differing motivations for their involvement in the intergenerational program. Involvement in GrandPals appeared to be beneficial for participants’ mental health and well-being. Lastly, while participants developed connections with the students, involvement in GrandPals did not seem to have a significant impact on participants’ social participation/social network.

intergenerational programs, older adults, community-engaged scholarship