The Value of Intergenerational Friendships

“If you only read the books everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.” – Haruki Murakami

I’ve always loved the movie “Up”. It’s a heartbreaking yet really uplifting tale about living after loss – but the true beauty of the film is the wonderful and unexpected friendship that the two protagonists share. It’s ultimately the story of an old widower and a young boy scout bringing out the very best in each other. It’s only a Pixar film, granted, but its success shows that many millions agree with me. And the film is right – intergenerational friendships are amazing.

From a very young age, we tend to form friendships with people close to us in age. Playgroups, nursery, school and then further education or apprenticeships see most of us reach our early twenties working and playing with peers.

But forming friendships with people from different generations can be hugely rewarding.
It’s something I came to recognise only recently, through my work as a home helper.

I am part of Good Life Sorted, a company that uses technology to match helpers with older, more vulnerable people who live close to them. The helpers then connect directly with their new clients to organise regular appointments and their own bespoke payment, and then every week, get involved in that person’s life. The details will depend on the needs of the individual – I have a few clients and each of us have unique working relationships. Some are not so mobile, so they rely on me to do a bit of shopping and jobs around the home; others simply want to pass time together – break up the day, get some fresh air and enjoy a stroll.

One thing they all have in common is that they have become valued friends to me. I first signed up with the aim of getting some extra money – I’d originally worked in finance which wasn’t for me but a friend’s parents used the process for some practical help and it sounded appealing. The aim of my connecting with them is always to help them retain a little independence and stay in their homes a bit longer. It’s something that’s usually organised by a relative and provides the older person with companionship, practical support and respect.

And respect is just one of the things they have each taught me along the way. Intergenerational friendships do this – they bring something different, and give us new outlooks and perspectives:


I have had my eyes opened to the vast array of rich experiences the older generations have had: by simply sitting down with a cup of tea for a chat, a younger person can learn so much. I have become quite the expert on horses, have a keen interest in different fashions and love watching one of my customers create greeting cards. I have learnt all about spiritualism and travel. Other cultures revere their elders for their experiences – I don’t think we do as much. We should.


Hearing all about these experiences and listening to different takes on them is valuable. Some of my older clients have very different outlooks on life which is understandable. I might not always agree with their views but recognising and respecting that others have the right to their own views based on their own experiences is vital to being more empathetic and compassionate towards one another – something I think can get lost in the immediate, social media-driven world we live in.


Slowing down is something we all had to learn to do at the start of the Covid pandemic. While many things have returned to some sort of normal, it’s important that we remember to be patient – with each other and with ourselves. Living in the moment and being mindful is so rewarding. By taking the time to sit and just spend time with my clients – chatting, creating craft, having a cup of tea, I am learning not to worry about what is happening later that day or week. I am learning to relax. It’s brilliant!

I truly look forward to visiting my clients. I don’t even think of them as clients any more. I may be helping them stay in their homes a little longer, and I may be carrying out tasks they cannot quite manage, but in truth, what they have given to me is way more valuable.

Written by: Julie Milligan