In a recent study conducted by Boston University and published in The Gerontologist, researchers concluded that close relationships between adult children and their grandparents have far reaching health benefits for both, including increased mental acuity and the reduction of depression symptoms. In addition, this intergenerational togetherness was found to promote the exposure to new ideas and the sharing of life wisdom.
Edward DeMeter and his grandson Cory Young understand, firsthand, the importance of these close bonds. Young works at Greenspring, an Erickson Living community in Springfield, Va., where his grandfather has lived since 2005. As a result, the two spend time together on a daily basis.
"I consider myself very fortunate because I not only have a job I love, but because of that job, I am able to spend time with my grandfather," says Young. "Some days we see each other for a quick hello and other times, I visit him before I head home for the day, for a meal, or to catch up on what is going on in each of our lives."
In 2002, as a high school junior, Young began working at Greenspring. His great aunt, who was living there at the time, suggested he apply for a job as a server in one of the community's five on-site restaurants.
"She was so impressed by the high school students who worked as servers," says Young. "She enjoyed their daily interactions and conversations."
Heeding his great aunt's advice, Young applied and was hired as a server. He has worked at Greenspring ever since. Over the last 16 years, he completed both college and graduate school, earned numerous promotions, and now serves in the role of general manager of Greenspring's Fireside and Potomac Café restaurants.
"My family led me to Greenspring and through the years Greenspring became my family," he says. "There's something special about working for a community that genuinely cares about both its residents and its staff members."
In 2005, Young's grandfather Edward DeMeter moved to Greenspring. As a former veteran and fighter pilot, he quickly found new friends in the community's aviation club.
"Greenspring is a great place to live," says Edward. "One of the biggest benefits is access to everything I need, right here on campus. I have also made many great friends. We all look out for each other."
But the best part about life at Greenspring, he says, is being close to his grandson.
"Words can't describe the advantages of having Cory here, he says. "It's a great feeling to know that we can see each other whenever we want. My daughter, Cory's mother, also lives nearby. It means a lot to me that we are able to spend time together as a family."
The feelings are mutual.
"I will never take for granted how lucky I am to spend time with my grandfather," says Cory. "He is one of my best friends."