If you have an elderly loved one and children of your own, sometimes the age gap between the two generations can be difficult to bridge. It can be especially tricky when your aging loved one has limited mobility and your child seems to go full speed all day long. What do you do to foster closer relationships between children and their aging relatives? Not everything will work for every situation, but here are a few ideas for you to draw inspiration from.
Some of the most rewarding activities for seniors and children to do together are memory related. Even if seniors have difficulty with short term memory, many retain a good deal of their long-term memory and thus remember stories, dates, and people from their younger years that may be of interest to their grandchildren. Memory activities are mutually beneficial; the seniors have the opportunity to share their history and feel important and useful, and the children not only get to see their grandparents in a different light, but also gain more of a sense of who they are and what their heritage is. Some examples of memory activities include
Games are easy and fun activities for homebound seniors to enjoy with their young relatives. These include things like board games, card games, bingo, etc. If your child has never (or rarely) played checkers or chess, playing with Grandpa can be a good learning experience and a treasured time spent together. If your child knows a game his grandparent does not, he might be able to teach Grandpa a thing or two as well. For example, WiiFit games like bowling or tennis can be a fun alternative to shake things up a little bit; these games can be played with simple arm motions and are therefore feasible even for those with limited mobility.
Teaching a Skill or a Hobby
Along those lines, having the grandparent teach her grandchild a skill or hobby can be another great bonding experience. Perhaps the two could crochet or knit together, or your mother can supervise your child in the kitchen while she cooks. Passing on these skills will ensure that your parent’s special talents will be preserved in some way.
Reading together is one of the classic activities to do with elderly relatives, who may have vision problems that keep them from reading very often on their own. You might see if you can round up books that your elderly relative enjoyed when he or she was young so your child can enjoy it as well.
Watching a Movie
Many kids have not seen some of the classic films or TV shows that were popular when your parents were young; these may include Casablanca, Red Skelton, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Abbot and Costello, I Love Lucy, The Andy Griffith Show, and others. It’s worth introducing your children to some of the classics that multiple generations can enjoy together.
Arts and Crafts
Even if your child or their grandparent isn’t particularly “crafty,” art and craft projects can be a fun way to spend time together. If the final product doesn’t turn out very well, you can always just laugh about how terrible it looks afterward. Ideas for arts and crafts include