To me, demographic change is the biggest societal challenge that we face right now. And to do so, we need solutions from multiple sides. The question not only is “who is going to pay for my pension?”, the question is how the diminishing number of young people will deal and interact with the increasing number of elderly people. (Managing director)

Generationsbrücke is a social enterprise engaged in the field of aging, founded in the city of Aachen in 2009. Its primary goal is to enhance intergenerational dialogue by bringing together primary school children and elderly inhabitants of nursing homes. The enterprise is led by its founder Horst Krumbach who is supported by four employees, two volunteers, and a supervisory board. With a center based in Aachen, Generationsbrücke presently cooperates with 83 institutions (43 primary schools / day-care centers and 40 nursing homes for the elderly) and aims at multiplying and expanding its cooperation nationwide in the following years. Its legal status is that of a registered association (‘eingetragener Verein’). Generationsbrücke generates the main part of its income through private and (some) public sponsors. Furthermore, income is generated through lump-sum compensations paid annually by cooperating partner institutions (nursing homes) and price money/awards (e.g. Young Leaders Award’ / BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt, ‘startsocial’.) Founder and managing director Horst Krumbach was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2013.

Generationsbrücke brings together primary school children and elderly inhabitants of nursing homes on an institutional basis. In established groups, the children and their ‘grandpartners’ meet one-to-one on a regular basis (once or twice a month) and for the duration of at least one year. Based on a proper developed pedagogical concept, Generationsbrücke’s employees accompany the visits and prepare the children in advance to give them an understanding of the topics of death and nursing care dependency.

Generationsbrücke’s ambition is threefold: first, to integrate and support the elderly with age-based services. Second, to promote the children’s social skills and their understanding and openness towards the elderly. Last, to set the need for intergenerational exchange and comprehension on the agenda in schools and Kindergartens – making intergenerational exchange and cohesion become a matter of course.

Generationsbrücke sees its work as a direct answer to the challenges arising out of demographic changes in Germany. It aims at forming “relationships across generations to foster empathy, understanding, and life-long learning” in times of overloaded social security systems. Moreover, Generationsbrücke sees its work as an answer to the decreasing traditional family ties as they help to build up new, professionalized family networks. Moreover, Generationsbrücke wants to make society more open, informed and comprehensible towards the rapidly increasing percentage of elderly people and dementia patients.