By Triciajean Jones
Did you know that Sept. 8 is National Grandparents Day? Celebrating Grandparents Day allows us to honor and experience the strength, knowledge and companionship our elders have to offer. At St. Ann’s Community, we value these opportunities and find great joy in honoring our seniors with special celebrations.
For Grandparents Day this year, with the help of St. Ann’s Life Enrichment advocate team, the residents of St. Ann’s planned a teddy bear picnic. In addition to spending precious time with their grandchildren or great-grandchildren, residents will give each child a teddy bear to dress and keep. There will also be music and picnic foods to enjoy while they create new memories together.
Here are some ways to connect with grandparents or special loved ones every day, not just Sept. 8.
Easy ways to connect
The secret to bringing generations together is simple: spend time together doing everyday things. St. Ann’s Community offers a host of ideas to help you get started:
• Food: Learning how to make a favorite meal or bake cookies are sensory experiences that nourish the soul as well as the body.
• Stories: Interviewing an elder is an excellent way for kids to develop good communications skills and learn about their family’s history.
• Photos: Create an album and identify the date, people and places in the pictures for future generations. If there are ancient videos of fond memories you want to watch together, you can clearly view it with services like Digital 8 to digital.
• Hobbies: Identify multi-generational activities to enjoy together like a family book club or collecting stamps.
• Music: Listening to a grandparent’s favorite song for connection can be especially engaging for those living with dementia
• Family traditions: Whether it’s Sunday dinner or an annual roller coaster ride, moments become memories.
• Keepsakes: Give a family heirloom to a grandchild, along with its story and meaning.
Time and distance don’t have to stand in your way when you can stay connected via Skype, FaceTime, and social media. Storytelling apps like Facebook, Forget Me Not Book, and StoryPress can help you share stories and photos for future generations. Tech-savvy grandparents can even shoot cooking demos to share with their grandkids on YouTube.
Technology is helping families connect with their loved ones. For example, residents whose families cannot attend special gatherings like the teddy bear picnic at St. Ann’s Community, can use an iPad provided by St. Ann’s to connect with the young people in their lives.
Follow your heart
If you or a loved one are considering a move to a senior living community, choose one that encourages family participation and partnership. Look for meaningful activities, technology and spaces that make you feel welcome and comfortable.
Grandparents Day is a gentle reminder that now’s the time to honor aging loved ones with love and gratitude whenever possible. If your grandparents are gone, there’s probably an older adult in your neighborhood or at a local senior living community who would appreciate your company.
Seniors have much wisdom, encouragement and love to share, and what better place to be than on the receiving end?
Triciajean Jones is director of Life Enrichment at St. Ann’s Community. Contact her at tjones@MyStAnns.com or visit www.stannscommunity.com.