National Grandparents Day is Sunday, September 13 and this holiday, introduced in 1973 in the United States, provides a “grand” opportunity to connect elders with their grandchildren and recognize the important role seniors play in the family.
There are many different kinds of grandparents; those who are elderly and in need of care, active grandparents who help raise children or long distance grandparents who offer support from afar. No matter what the grandparenting style or ability, the older generation can be a wealth of stories and learning, of nurturing and love but most importantly, time. Busy working parents may lack the simple gift grandparents can give their grandchildren, a chance to slow down and take time to notice the little things. They may teach a child to sew or plant a garden, to fix the lawnmower or bake a cake but most of all, they are teaching them their own value and perhaps something about the past from a generation that grew up with a very different lifestyle.
Marian McQuade of Virginia launched the first grandparents day to honour and remember grandparents; to provide an opportunity to show love and to help children become aware of all the information and guidance older adults can offer.
As the over-65 population continues to grow, there will be more grandparents than ever before in North America. Seniors are living longer and healthier lives and they represent a wealth of learning, stories and skills to pass down to the younger generations.
The kids are back to a routine and summer vacations are over; make time this weekend to visit an elder. One activity that may bring generations together and open interesting dialogue is to create a Life Story of your grandparents or other older family member. A simple family history can be a help for caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients as well. A photo, name or memory may spark lucid moments filled with joy.
For inter-generational activity planning suggestions and links to Life Statement templates, visit www.legacyproject.org .