Today is National Grandparents Day – a day for generations to connect through love and respect. Melissa Buesching, community outreach coordinator, Parkview Center for Healthy Living Warsaw, explains that a celebration of our older relatives truly begins with an understanding of their comfort and the aging process in general.
When it comes to doing something special for your grandparents, or any older loved one, you have to really meet them where they are. They might be more active or they might not be. If they love going out and doing things, do that, but if their mobility is a bit more limited, respect that and adapt.
It’s very difficult for generations to relate at times. Younger groups are so techie and always on the go. We really underestimate the connection of just taking the time to sit and visit with someone or even putting pen to paper to share a few thoughtful sentiments. Being in the moment is so important to our older relatives.
We need to understand the aging process. We’re all going to be there someday and the world will be different.
A good example of this is – while intentions are always good – we often forget to honor our loved one’s space. By all means, do the dusting, yard work and simple repairs, but also keep in mind that your way isn’t necessarily the best way for them. We tend to want to fix things and arrange them the way we would want them. But often times, older men and women with limited mobility will set up their home in a style that’s convenient for them. They need to be able to reach things and make the space work for their physical restrictions. Respect that by asking before you work.
Also, loud sounds are very overwhelming for our older relatives and their response time is significantly slower. We want them to be tech-savvy, for example, but we need to be cognizant of their needs rather than ours. Take a step back and go to the core of who you are. Think about somebody else and practice empathy.
People always think it’s going and doing, but it’s really about being. Many times these loved ones have lost a spouse. Simply the act of touch – holding their hand, hugging them – offers them a sense of connection. Sit next to them and let them tell you their stories. Let them come back to a good space in their mind. Maybe they used to go on Sunday drives with their significant other. Take them out for a spin on a sunny day to grab ice cream or on a picnic. (Just don’t forget the sunscreen if you’ll be outside!)
Music is also such a healer. It brings out something. No matter what age we are, music is such a connector and a healing medium. It transports us to special moments and happier times. Seniors also love to read. Bring them a book you know they’ll love or visit regularly and read to them. If they prefer puzzles, do that for a bit. It’s a perfect way to stimulate their brain and spend some quality time.