“Our modern world is challenged by aging demographics, global climate change, political unrest, and economic instability,” says Whitehouse. “Intergenerational approaches to learning and health can foster the kind of long-term intergenerative thinking and valuing that is necessary for human flourishing and even survival in these difficult times. The answers to the challenges of chronic diseases like dementia will not be found in reductionist molecular biology and genetics, but in the redesign of our communities to serve elders, children, and the environment more effectively.”
To demonstrate how intergenerational relationships can assist in addressing some of the social issues that accompany AD and ACCC , Dr. Whitehouse first challenges what he calls the “myth of Alzheimer’s,” or how the new diagnostic criteria for AD and related conditions reveal the limits of medicalization. Then he details the role of, “The Intergenerational School,” a high performing, public charter school in Ohio that provides learning opportunities for 200 elementary school children and hundreds of adults, some of whom have dementia. “The school is an intergenerative learning organization built around principles of social construction, educational excellence, lifelong experiential and service learning, and participation in social and political life,” says Whitehouse. Its mission is to create a community that guides individuals in learning the skills and gaining experiences that foster lifelong learning and spirited citizenship.
Sally Newman, Editor of the Journal of Intergenerational Relationships, notes that Whitehouse’s article advances several ideas that prompt further discussion by readers. “It challenges the notion of Alzheimer’s disease as a disease, and suggests that dementia and cognitive impairments across the lifespan are the biggest challenges to intergenerational relationships, especially when linked to the increasing economic and ecological challenges facing the next generations of human beings.” Whitehouse’s research is co-published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
The article is currently available for free online access on the journal’s website. Click here to download a PDF or text version. For more information about the Journal of Intergenerational Relationships, and to view the latest table of contents, visit www.tandfonline.com/wjir.