Grandchildren are often a great source of joy for seniors, no matter their age or level of physical activity. Unfortunately, sometimes with age, mobility decreases. The seniors may not be able to do things the way they used to. When seniors have young grandchildren running around, it can be hard to help them keep up or join in on all of the things they want to do.
However, limited mobility doesn’t mean seniors have to spend less time with their grandkids. In fact, it can force caregivers to think of creative ways to help them bond and connect on a regular basis. A child/grandparent relationship is incredibly important. It provides deeper connections and a built-in support system for the child.
It’s important for the aging population — particularly individuals with mobility issues — to harbor a sense of independence, and assistive technology can assist with this. In addition to helpful technologies like remote monitoring and wearable devices, there are a lot of useful products people can utilize to make life easier, including things like spill-proof mugs, and other daily living aids. But they’ll feel even more independent by trying some ideas to connect with grandchildren.
With that in mind, let’s look at five things seniors can do to foster that connection.
1. Have a Tea Party
Both boys and girls of a young age love tea parties! It gives them a chance to use their imagination in more ways than one, and grandparents can enjoy the experience of sitting and talking with them. It’s a great way for them to get to know their grandkids better.
Encourage seniors to truly embrace this concept. They shouldn’t be afraid to go all out when it comes to setting up a “high tea” for their grandchildren. Help them set the table, bring out the fine china, and make the event feel special. You may even consider encouraging grandparents and grandchildren to dress up for the occasion.
Not only is a tea party easy to prepare, even with mobility issues, but seniors can benefit from it, too! Tea has incredible health benefits. For example, green tea can help with inflammation, and research suggests it can decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
2. Tell Stories
Reading together requires little to no mobility at all, and it’s a great way to stay close with grandkids and really bond. If a child has a favorite book, they could bring it along on their next visit. The grandparent and grandchild can then take turns reading to each other.
This gives elders an opportunity to share personal stories with their grandchildren. Telling younger generations about our family history or stories from our past can make them feel more connected. If you want to help the senior go an extra step, assist them in writing down their history like a storybook so that kids can learn their ancestry while having a physical copy to carry with them as they age. They’ll likely remember (and refer back to!) those personal stories for the rest of their lives.
3. Get Artsy
Most kids love arts and crafts, and it doesn’t take a lot of effort or mobility. Something as simple as giving grandchildren a coloring book or bringing out a paint set can keep seniors and kids alike busy for hours. There are many different types of safe paints to choose from, from watercolors to fingerpaint. What you choose should depend on the grandchild’s age and what they might have more fun experimenting with.
Plus, when the art project is done, the senior has a keepsake to remember that special day and the time they spent connecting with their grandchild!
4. Listen to (or Play) Music
There are so many benefits when it comes to listening to music. A particular song can take seniors “back in time” and allow them to remember a certain period in their life. Music can also help seniors with things like memory loss and stress reduction.
Listening to music or playing an instrument with a grandchild can create new memories for them, too. Sharing songs with them or teaching them a new instrument will be something both parties involved will never forget.
5. Cook or Bake Together
Cooking doesn’t require seniors to be on their feet the whole time, and it’s a great way to pass on some talents and “secret recipes” while getting grandchildren interested in nutrition, family history, and more.
Research has shown that getting kids in the kitchen brings multiple benefits. They’ll build confidence, they’re less likely to be picky eaters, and they have to use skills like language, math, and science.
If the senior does have to do a bit of walking around to cook or bake with grandchildren, make sure they have access to mobility aids like a walker, scooter, or cane whenever they need it. Doing so can help to prevent falls. They can also take advantage of restorative methods, like getting a massage. Regular massages can reduce muscle tension, boost circulation, and help to improve mobility.
Don’t be afraid to think outside the box when it comes helping seniors connect to their grandchildren. Finding ways to do so and help them really bond with one another will foster a strong relationship — one that grandchildren will remember forever.