A lot has changed in recent years in the way that we care for our elderly. Before it was common for women to have careers, it was assumed that they would care for both their children and their elderly parents and in-laws. They were often burdened by the responsibilities of caring for more than one generation at a time and were unable to pursue personal fulfillment.
All this has changed with the advent of feminism and two-career families. Elderly parents are given the best care for their personal situation, but are not always being physically cared for by family members. Excellent options in the form of home care, assisted living and nursing homes allow women to concentrate on their families and careers, with the confidence that their parents are being properly looked after.
These developments have eased the burden on families, but do they impact the close relationship between grandparents and their grandchildren? Statistics show that 29% of older Americans rate time with grandchildren as one of their top values. And studies show that grandchildren feel close to their grandparents, even as adults, especially to those who live close by. Emotional closeness and support create a special bond between children and their grandparents and provide a link between the child and his or her cultural heritage and family history.
The vital role that grandparents play in their grandchildren’s lives can continue even through their twilight years and despite ill health and physical weakness. A visit from a grandchild can brighten up a grandparent’s day and also be the highlight of the grandchild’s week. This special relationship can be aided and fostered by a caregiver, whether in a nursing home or in home care. Infirmity and medical instruments can be offputting, but minimizing medical disruptions and a matter of fact attitude about those which are necessary can put a grandchild at ease and keep the visit light and fun. An elderly person whose short-term memory isn’t strong can be reminded about an upcoming visit right before it occurs, so the grandparent is prepared and excited for it. A caregiver can also make a difference by helping the conversation flow if it isn’t doing so naturally.
National Grandparents Day is just one day a year to celebrate the special bond between grandchildren and their grandparents, but of course, this bond needs to be recognized and nurtured throughout the year. Grandchildren who make the effort to come visit will appreciate a caregiver’s support in nourishing this relationship day in and day out.
Happy Grandparents Day to our clients, our staff and all the grandchildren and grandparents in the Towne Nursing family!