National Grandparents Day on September 10 provides the perfect opportunity to reach out to grandparents and reflect on their important role in our lives. Their wisdom, experience, and epic family stories make us who we are today.
From sacred family recipes to memories of decades gone by, grandparents and influential elders (our “chosen family” and “grandfriends”) have a lot to give. They act as a living link that connects the past, present, and future. Their stories, traditions, and values are handed down through the generations, preserving family heritage.
Ways to Honor and Connect with Grandparents
In this fast-paced world, it’s easy to let time pass by without intentionally connecting with our grandparents. The mutual benefits from spending time together include:
- Listening well or learning something new: Ask about a skill they have or had, like woodworking, playing an instrument, knitting, or something unique. Listen to their stories, even if you’ve heard them before.
- Recording important family memories: Before it’s too late, ask specific questions and record their answers on paper or electronically. Many guided resources exist, including Heart to Heart’s Memory Journal or others like the Grandparents Legacy Journal or Storyworth’s keepsake book. Take lots of pictures or videos to have cherished mementos.
- Showing elders how valuable they are in your life: Plan a lunch date, a walk, or an unrushed afternoon visit. Let them know they aren’t forgotten.
- Building trust for the future: As our loved ones age, they often need outside care and help with decision making. Build your relationship now so they know you have their best interests in mind.
For Grandparents Day, implement some of these ideas from the official Grandparents’ Day campaign, #DoSomethingGrand:
- Read a book with your grandfriends, grandparents, or grandfamily caregiver.
- Take a walk together through your neighborhood or favorite park.
- Share family stories of your favorite memories together or look through a family photo album together.
- Cook a meal together using your favorite family recipe.
- Do an arts and crafts activity.
- Have a virtual coffee or lunch date.
- Participate in an in-person or virtual family game night.
- Write a handwritten note or call or video chat, specifically to express appreciation to them.
- If your grandparent has passed away, do something in their honor on Grandparents Day. Visit their gravesite, do a favorite shared activity, plant a tree or flowers, tell favorite family stories.
Caring for the Elderly & Planning for the Future
While Grandparents Day is a time for celebration, it’s also an opportunity to highlight the importance of elder care. As our loved ones age, their needs change, requiring support and attention that may not have been necessary before. Providing proper elder care is not just about meeting physical needs; it’s about fostering emotional well-being and ensuring that our older generation lives their golden years with dignity and respect.
Elder care involves creating an environment that is safe, comfortable, and conducive to the well-being of our grandparents. This can range from making modifications to living spaces to accommodate mobility challenges to ensuring that they have access to quality healthcare and social engagement opportunities. Additionally, emotional support is paramount – spending quality time with our elders, actively listening to their concerns, and involving them in family activities can significantly enhance their sense of belonging and purpose.
Further, planning for the end of life offers clarity and peace for the whole family. Though these conversations can be difficult to start, making healthcare decisions in advance is vital in order to outline their care preferences as they age or as their health declines. See Heart to Heart Hospice’s article on Healthcare Decisions and resources like Five Wishes for a guide on documenting your loved one’s wishes.
As we celebrate Grandparents Day, let’s also remember the importance of elder care – a commitment to ensuring that our grandparents’ later years are filled with comfort, respect, and the love they deserve. The intergenerational bond is a precious gift, and by nurturing it, we create a legacy that extends far beyond our own lifetimes.