Every day is an opportunity to call home and talk to Mom, Dad, Grandma or Grandpa—but today, you get a little extra encouragement: Sunday, September 13 is National Grandparents Day!
Celebrated each year on the first Sunday of September after Labor Day, Grandparents Day is dedicated to saying thank you for all the love and support they’ve given over the years.
While you may not actively celebrate Grandparents Day in your family, I think it’s as good a prompt as any for spending quality time with the older adults in our lives.
Quality time together can be hard to come by
Many adult children today see their older loved ones quite frequently. Unfortunately, for a growing number of people who are stuck in the Caregiving Dilemma, too much time is spent performing essential caregiver tasks and not enough enjoying cherished family relationships. I hope those of you in this situation will find a few hours here and there to just be a friend to your elderly loved ones.
How can family caregivers find quality time to spend with their elderly loved ones, when so much time is devoted to providing care? A few tips:
- Plan ahead. The small tasks and chores we do for our parents and grandparents tend to expand into a greater time commitment as the needs of our aging loved ones grow. It’s important to plan ahead for this so that you don’t look back and realize you’ve spent all your time providing care, and hardly any quality time visiting and enjoying special moments with your family members.
- Ask for help. It might feel like you’re the only one who can really take care of Mom or Dad, but oftentimes it’s better for everyone if the care load is shared across multiple family members, or friends, or hired help. I’ve found that elderly family members would rather have their children and grandchildren socialize with them than attend to their various needs and household chores if given the choice.
- Smile, and appreciate the moment. If you get the chance to stop and appreciate your time with Mom, or Grandma, or any loved one, it can make a big difference. So savor the moment, and be sure to communicate to your loved ones how nice it feels to be together. When you let them know how much you enjoy their company, it will make them—and you—feel great.
“Call your mom, call your dad. If you’re lucky enough to have a parent or two alive on this planet, call ’em. Don’t text. Don’t email. Call them on the phone. Tell ’em you love ’em, and thank them, and listen to them for as long as they want to talk to you.” —J.K. Simmons, actor
Connecting across generations on Grandparents Day
I also want to encourage you to help your younger family members connect with the older ones. Think about how your children can become closer with their grandparents. Growing up, I had a number of preconceived notions about what it meant to be “old.” It was only after spending time with my grandparents that I began to appreciate their true wisdom. By talking with my parents’ parents, I gained deep friendships that I still treasure today.
Have your children or younger loved ones developed connections with your parents or your spouse’s parents? Take some time to get them on the phone with one another, plan a trip back home, or you could even plan a vacation for the whole family. Maybe your parents can come to visit, or you can take the whole family out for a movie.
In this age of constant digital distractions and hectic work or school lives, it’s more important than ever that we make an effort to reach out to our elders. Today—Grandparents Day—is a great opportunity to reach out. Let us know in the comments section if you do, and be sure to follow Caring Hearts on Facebook for more family caregiver advice!