Staying Young at Heart

One way to stay young is to make yourself feel young.  And the easiest way to do this is to spend time with the youngsters. 

For seniors, maintaining close relationships with young grandchildren or great-grandchildren is important for many reasons.  It bridges generational gaps; helps build and maintain family connections; and provides an emotional value that can enhance health and well being of seniors.

Here are some ideas of engaging activities for young and old:

  • If you happen to live nearby, play dress-up.  Let your grandchild choose clothes for both of you to wear – the more vintage and outlandish, the better. 
  • Do a puzzle together.  It is a quiet activity which utilizes identification and matching skills.  Pick out a jigsaw puzzle together at the store, and when it’s done, use puzzle glue to create a keepsake the child can hang on his or her bedroom wall.
  • Create portraits or pictures of each other.  Use crayons or paints to tap into your inner artists. Display your grandchild’s artwork at your house, and let him or her take home your masterpiece.
  • Kitchen activities.  Pick out something to cook or bake.  Even very young children can follow simple directions and help mix batter or shape dough.  Keep track of what you make together in a blank journal. This is a great way to pass on heirloom family recipes.  And everyone likes licking the spoon when done.
  • Share a special hobby.  I regularly went golfing with my grandfather, and his close friend.  And he would also take me fishing.  My aunt and I would play card games for hours.  Whether you knit, collect coins, go fishing or play cards, involve your grandchild in these activities. They are a wonderful opportunity for learning.

If you don’t have the benefit of proximity for face-to-face activities, there are some (relatively) easy “high-tech” ways to communicate with the grandkids:

  • Try video chat.  Get help setting up a webcam – or utilize online services such as Skype – so you can have live video calls with your grandchildren. The phone is a great tool.  But even more fun when you can see the person you are talking to.
  • Customize a bedtime story.  You can record yourself reading your grandchild’s favorite.  Send the DVD as a bedtime story, and they can watch it at home and read along before bed.
  • Do you like scavenger hunts?  Pick a theme each week, such as sports, animals, a favorite location in the neighborhood. You and your grandchild can take pictures (film or digital) of things relating to that theme. Then, share the images via e-mail or regular mail and collect them in a photo album. Bring the albums when you do get together so you can talk about the pictures.

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– John D. Miller is the owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, an agency providing in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions. He can be reached at: (781) 378-2164; email: jdmiller@homecarepartners.biz ; or online at: www.homecarepartnersma.com

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