In observation of Grandparents Day, here are 10 ways to bond with grandparents. Aging is an unavoidable reality of life. Growing older is difficult, but we’ll all have to do it sooner or later. We begin and finish our lives the same way: relying on the assistance of others. Everything comes full circle.
Seeing a parent or grandparent age is painful, not only for you but for them too, particularly if their physical or mental health deteriorates.
Are we ready for the new phase of our lives: one in which we serve as caregivers to the people who once served us? Knowing how to best help an older loved one might be challenging. Here are ways to bond with grandparents.
Maintain constant contact with them: Visit Often.
Your parents don’t want things; they want you. Visiting your aging loved one is helpful and one of the best things you can do. If they live alone, see them often.
You will not only be able to make them feel less alone, but you will also be able to monitor their situation. When there’s too much chaos, leaving the kids at home is preferable.
Call regularly if you can’t visit.
Call if you can’t visit—at least weekly, check in, or at least every few days. A phone call out of the blue can brighten someone’s day. Even if your aging loved one is entirely self-sufficient, they’d appreciate a call.
Take them to go on errands with you.
When it is no longer safe for a parent or grandparent to drive, they become upset because they have lost their freedom. You can assist by inviting someone you care about to accompany you. Offer them an electric wheelchair if they have difficulty moving around. Even if they’re just running errands, getting out of the house is nice, and they almost certainly have things to pick up.
Empathize: Put yourself in their shoes.
Aging brings many issues, such as being unable to move around, having health issues, forgetting things, not having as much freedom, and being unable to do something you used to enjoy. All of these things can be extremely inconvenient and annoying.
Try to understand how they feel, even if you don’t understand what is happening. Listening and then responding with empathy (“That sounds awful. I can see why you’d be upset.”)
Although this doesn’t solve the problem, it does make it easier to deal with. It also helps them to allow you to help them.
See a need, fill a need: Repair what’s broken.
Fix something that needs fixing to help someone out. If you can’t fix it, go out of your way to find someone who can.
Identify potentially dangerous spots in their home.
While in their home, look for anything that could cause an accident. Things like a loose floorboard or steps of varying heights. Make sure to address these issues as soon as possible.
This is usually a part of “aging in place.” There are resources available for “aging in place” with details on what to look for when spotting risk.
Accompany them to their medical appointment.
Going to routine and special doctor’s appointments with a loved one show that you care and is a smart way to keep track of their health. Understand what is going on and be vocal. Help them advocate for themselves.
Aid them in decluttering.
Longevity means many things have accumulated. It’s challenging for older adults to get rid of clutter. Many could benefit from assistance in getting rid of clutter. Many of the things we deem “trash” or “junk” carry important memories for them.
Help them declutter without being overbearing, pushy, or intense. Ask if something is a treasure, don’t assume. Perhaps, relive the memory with them to help them let go. Be patient as they work through it.
Suggest a good book.
Reading is pleasurable and boosts brainpower. Help your parent or grandparent maintain reading by recommending books, finding audiobooks, or taking them to the library.
Keep up with their calendar.
Some older adults feel cut off from society or their families. Keep the calendar of someone you care about up to date every month. Include things like birthdays, recitals, or sports games that kids can join. Make them feel like they’re in the know.
Bonus Bonding Brownie Points: More Ways to Bond with Grandparents
Prioritize: help them identify their task.
Everyday tasks and to-do lists can be overwhelming for older adults. Make a list of everything and keep it somewhere easy to see and find. Sit down with your grandparent or parent and assist them in determining what steps they must take first.
Shopping and Meal Prep.
Try grocery shopping with a loved one, or do it for them. Spend an afternoon planning with your loved one and then preparing simple meals. You can store these meals in the fridge or freezer.
Give them something to look forward to.
We all enjoy having something to look forward to, regardless of age. It gives us something to anticipate, whether it’s lunch with a friend or a weekend getaway. Help your elderly parent or grandparent plan a fun activity for each week. It could be bingo at the senior center, brunch with you, or a weekly class they look forward to.
Exercise with them.
The benefits of physical activity are proven, and it is especially beneficial to older adults. Much research has discovered that physical activity in older adults could help prevent illness, keep them independent, and improve their quality of life (source). Prioritize exercise and encourage them to join a gym, join them for walks, and stay active.
Involve them in community events.
Through libraries, community centers, and outreach programs, there are so many great things for older adults to do. You can use the Internet to find events and groups your loved one can join in your area.
Maintain their yard.
Older adults care about their yards. Many older folks can’t maintain their grass and flowers on their own. Doing some labor yourself or hiring someone to mow the grass can benefit an aging parent or grandparent.
Empower them to protect themselves from scams.
Scammers target seniors a lot. Scammers frequently use phone calls, sweepstakes, and phony medical insurance to steal money from older adults. Read up on common scams that take advantage of older adults and discuss how to avoid them.
Get a happy helper.
Hiring a responsible person to be your loved one’s helper is a good idea. A niece, nephew, or grandchild can do it well. Families hire someone they trust to check in on their parents or grandparents, drive them to appointments and errands, read to them, cook for them, or assist them with physical activities.
While it could be easy to ask family members to help, remember healthy boundaries for all involved. If the family member cannot help, which is understandable, resources are available, like care.com, to find a helper.
Technology with training wheels.
The world is constantly changing, making people over 50 feel a little stuck. Keep it simple; begin with services that are useful, such as email and online bill payment.
Slowly introduce technology to your parent or grandparent. Create “prompt sheets.” These are easy-to-see ‘how to’ bullet points that can help your loved one remember what to do next.
The vintage inbox: their mailbox.
A good old-fashioned letter is a wonderful thing to receive. In our parents’ and grandparents’ days, letters were the primary source of correspondence. You could get the family together and flood your loved one’s mailbox with hand-written notes or cards.
Discover something new.
You can always learn something new. Learning new things gives you energy and makes you feel good about yourself. Try something new with your older parent or grandparent, like yoga or genealogy.
Have them think of things they want to do and put them on a list. Then help them do those things. Find opportunities they never had growing up and wanted to do. You’re never too old to reach your goals.
Some older adults enjoy having a pet to keep them company. Perhaps your loved one requires an emotional support animal. Remember that you may need to take care of the pet upkeep or hire a pet helper.
Tangible: no passwords needed; make them a memory book.
One truly unique thing you can do is create a memory book for an older loved one. The book could include pictures, stories, or other items from their life that they find comforting. StoryWorth is a great place to start because it allows you to create a book about your parent or grandparent’s life that your family can keep for the rest of their lives.
In the end
The most valuable gift you can give an older loved one is your time. Reminisce with them and try to understand the feelings they are conveying. Make it a point to communicate with them regularly, whether by phone, in person, or on FaceTime if they’re tech-savvy.