A Glimpse into Norwegian Intergenerational Practices

Livsglede for Eldre or Life Joy for the Elderly,  began as a volunteer initiative in Norway in 2005 to bring joy to older adults in their own community. It has since become a human rights-based national certification system for nursing homes. Read on to find out more about its intergenerational work.

Norway is known for its breathtaking fjords, snow-tipped mountains, midnight sun and the Aurora Borealis. It is also well-known that Norway is a welfare state with a population of around 5.5 million people. It provides state-funded services (healthcare, education, childcare, social help) for the whole population from the taxes paid to the government. For the oldest population, this means having institutions for caring for the elderly. For the youngest ones, this translates into child allowances for families and a state subsidy for kindergarten.

The welfare state model depends on the general population being part of the workforce. This forces different generations into their age-appropriate institutions that are provided by the government. Most times, because of greater and better job opportunities, families are forced to relocate, leaving behind their extended families. This means that grandparents and grandchildren live further apart making it more difficult to have frequent intergenerational interactions. This is particularly true for older adults who live in care institutions and have limited capacity to be mobile. While the older population is encouraged to live at home as long as possible with support and ‘checking in’ from the public care system, 4% of the population live in care homes with round-the-clock care.

Livsglede for Eldre (Life Joy for the Elderly or LFE) started as a volunteer initiative in 2005 when nursing school students aimed to create joyful moments for the elderly in their own community. It subsequently evolved into an organization with activities and cooperation with municipalities all over Norway. At the same time as the organization was founded, the concept of ‘Joy of Life Nursing Homes’ was developed, which became the basis for all its work.  Joy of Life Nursing Homes recognizes the importance of co-creation and the spirit of each individual, old and young. The approach, which has become a national certification system, supports and teaches the importance of embracing human rights, and how to facilitate positive, meaningful activities and intergenerational meetings.

Nowadays, LFE cooperates with different sectors and industries, including local government units, kindergartens, schools and universities, in order to promote more intergenerational programmes. LFE has a network of 597 kindergartens all over Norway that take part in generasjonsmøter (generational meetings). This represents 11 percent of all kindergartens in the country. In these meetings, the youngest visits the oldest for joint activity sessions. Kindergartens that are part of the Livsglede Barnehage network are equipped with kits to support intergenerational activities, conversations and interactions. In order to promote conversations between different generations in generasjonsmøter, LFE created conversation cards that include questions such as:

  • Do you have a favorite place you like to spend time in? (Tell me more about it)
  • How can you tell you are happy? (What does it mean to be happy?)
  • What kind of game did you prefer as a child?

This conversation card game is featured in this short video (in Norwegian)

LFE also cooperates with a researcher from the KINDknow Centre (Kindergarten Knowledge Centre for Systemic Research on Diversity and Sustainable Futures), in the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences. Currently, we are documenting children’s experiences and reflections on participating in generasjonsmøter which we hope will lead to new knowledge and resources to facilitate these important meetings between young and old.

Eya Oropilla is a researcher at Western Norway University of Applied Sciences. Kristin Indal and Linda Fahle-Johansen work for Livesglede for Eldre. You can contact them at;