Amazingly, there are more than 70 million people in the US who are grandparents, the most in our history!
We’d call that a bonafide grandparent boom!
It shouldn’t be surprising, though, because it makes sense. With the population of older adults growing, there are more who can call themselves grandparents (or even great-grandparents).
Many agree that being a grandparent is good for successful aging.
Boston College researchers have delved into the grandparent – grandchild relationship to determine what benefits this can have on the health and well-being of older adults.
Intergenerational relationships were found to have an effect on both adult and child to reduce depression. The close bond can influence behavior in the grandkids too according to researchers.
Grandparents can influence the younger generation by sharing their life experience but children also bring fresh ideas to the older population too!
Some studies have shown that older women who babysit grandchildren one day a week have reduced incidence of cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Tips for Staying In Touch
Despite the fact that there are more grandparents, our families continue to be spread out across the country and may not be in touch as well as they could.
Technology can bridge the gap, especially for those at a distance, but even for those who live in the same city (but different homes).
Here are some tips for seniors and grandchildren to strengthen relationships:
- Become pen pals. Use paper, pen, markers, crayons and ink to send messages of love and encouragement to each other. Kids can color pictures, write notes and create cards to send to grandparents who will love to receive these handmade missives on a regular basis. Even a very young child can participate.
- Share photos. We take photos every day using our phones and so do our senior loved ones. Setting up a way to easily share these photos — either through a secure website, personal Facebook page, or by text message — will spread the love.
- Connect via FaceTime or Skype to video chat. Grandchildren will love to connect with a grandparent face to face. They can play as the older adult watches, tell stories, share the events of the day, and just enjoy each other’s company. There’s nothing like being there (virtually) to be a part of the life of a younger child and watch them grow and change.
- Text message. If the grandchild is a bit older and can text using a smartphone or tablet, this is a great way to connect with a senior who can do the same. Short notes or longer stories can be shared in real time.
- ‘This is Your Life’ videos. Grandparents can make a video tape of their life events. Their first job, their first car, how they met their spouse, their siblings, the town where they grew up, and all the other details of their life that grandchildren would find interesting. Include facts such as the price of gum or milk, going to a black and white movie, getting a TV for the first time, or using a rotary phone will interest the kids. This will become a cherished memory for the whole family.
- Share a good book. Read a good book to each other. Maybe one day the child picks the book and one day the grandparent does but you read together, whether in person on via technology.
- Plan an outing. Go to the library, take a nature walk, plan a weekend getaway, or go for an ice cream cone. Make the most out of the time together.
Spending time together will build lifetime memories and benefit both senior and child. Here are a few more articles family caregivers might like as we prioritize multi-generational activities.
- Multigenerational Activities: Joy Today and Shared Memories Forever
- Seniors Staying Active While Having Fun Playing with Grandchildren
- Multigenerational Family Households — Are They Harmful to Seniors’ Health?
- Honoring Grandparents on Their Special Day — 10 Tips for Making it Special