The Power of Friendship Across Generations

Melissa Lewelling and Jen Walker, though 19 years apart, count each other as close friends.

“She’s always been there for me,” says Melissa, 29. Early in the pandemic, Jen, who has a house in Los Altos, Calif., did Melissa’s laundry to help her avoid the communal machines at her apartment building.

“She keeps me young,” says Jen, who is 48 and has three children, including a college freshman.

Before Covid-19 hit, they’d go out to eat and watch movies together. Since, they’ve spent more time talking on the phone and texting. Recently they hiked on trails in Northern California, where they both live. They each love adventure and talk about post-pandemic trips to mud-bath spas.

Nearly four in 10 adults, both men and women, have a close friend at least 15 years older or younger than they are, according to a 2019 AARP survey. The threshold of 15 years is considered to mark a social generation—groups who grew up sharing similar cultural experiences and significant historic events.


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