Keeping Connected With the Family as You Age
Many older people fear losing touch with their children and grandchildren. These days, life is hectic and young and middle-aged adults are typically busy with their children and careers. That doesn’t mean that you’re unimportant to them. There are some ways that you can adjust in order to stay connected with them.
Staying Connected Through Technology
If you’re technologically savvy, social media is a great way for you to keep up with your family. Although it mightn’t measure up to being physically present, technology makes it possible to stay close when loved ones are far away or don’t call in as frequently as you’d like them too.
You can connect with family via Skype or FaceTime, where you actually get to video call with each other. If you’re unsure how to do this, ask a friend or family member to set it up for you, and show you how to navigate your way through. It’s best to find out what your children or grandchildren are using, and connect with them that way. It might be messaging on Facebook, or through WhatsApp. Most of these platforms are simple to use once you learn how too.
Enjoy Time With the Youngest of Family Members
If you’re lucky enough to have young grandchildren around you, enjoy them as much as you can. Offer to babysit, play with them at the park, and sit down with them to play a game. Some of their best memories will be playing a certain board game with you or having a swing down at the park.
Invite them over for dinner or take a meal around to share with them. And be sure to throw in a yummy dessert that you enjoy baking (or buying from the bakery if cooking isn’t your thing). They’ll have fond memories of this as they grow as well.
If you have distance between you and your family, and you’re financial enough to visit, make a point of doing so. You might even prefer paying for your children and young grandchildren to enjoy a family holiday with you. That way you can spend time with the little ones and your children too. They’ll surely appreciate it.
Connecting With Grownup Grandchildren
If you’re the grandparent of adult grandchildren you might not get to see them as frequently. But for some, you may still be very involved in their day to day lives. Whether near or far, grandparents play an important role in their grandchildren’s lives.
Young adults see grandparents as a source of affection and unconditional love. You can stay connected with your grandchildren by expressing this affection. If they aren’t physically around you much, you can consider connecting on Facebook, sharing text messages, and calling them for a catch-up. If they’re still physically present in your lives then you can obviously express love and affection in person.
They also enjoy the history that grandparents bring with them, linking them to their past. Listening to stories about their parents as children, as well as other family members is really rewarding and young people are interested in these stories. Their parents might not have communicated with them about your ancestry, or major life events that you’ve gone through. These are great stories to share and are usually well received by grandchildren.
With that in mind, grandchildren look to their grandparents as well as their parents for guidance. This could be religious guidance as well advice for living. Remember that their morals, ethics, and values partly come from you as well. Let’s face it. You’re the one who raised their parent. Offloading your wisdom shouldn’t be underestimated.
And remember, young adults are often really busy. You might have more free time than they have, and be able to support them by helping with their children, or cooking a meal and inviting them over for dinner. Show them how active you can be. It’s a sad reality that many young people have a negative attitude towards ageing, and you can show them otherwise by being involved with them and active in your own life.
But finally, actively work towards having a relationship that is independent of other family members. Build your own unique relationship with them not matter whether they’re nearby or far away.
Find Mutual Interests
Really taking the time to connect on mutual terms with your family is important. What is it that they enjoy doing, that you like to participate in too?
Some suggestions include sport and recreation. You might both like a round of golf, or doing a free yoga session in the park on Saturday mornings for example. You might prefer to stay in and watch the Friday night football together.
Some people enjoy the arts and culture. A passion for food and wine could be something you share together regularly. You might both love going to see musicals or the ballet, or have a common interest in music. Yes music. Some younger people love old rock music, or a good Orchestral performance.
Are you a book worm? If you’re apart, and you both love reading, you could start a book club with a few family members, and connect once a month in person or over the internet to discuss the book.
As a simple rundown, find common interests and use those to connect. This will give you something to share and something to talk about. It will make your time spent together more flowing.
Keep it Positive
Keep the relationship in an amicable state and think positive. If you’re doing most of the contacting, that’s okay. Young adults often forget to respond to messages, or don’t answer their phones because they’re preoccupied. This doesn’t mean that they don’t love you, nor does it mean that they don’t appreciate hearing from you. Just hang in there and keep trying.
Try to be excepting. If your granddaughter turns up with pink hair and is full of opinions, let her be. It’s not life threatening. Don’t necessarily agree with her opinions, but simply allow her to have her say. It’s an age old saying, but it’s ok to “bite your tongue” and “mind your business.” The real exception to this is if your child or grandchild are in danger. That’s a different story and you’ll need to intervene.
Connecting With Family When Your Health has Deteriorated
Older people often live with chronic health conditions. When your mobility is limited and your feeling weak, it can be really difficult to find a way to connect with family. There are some options though.
Have you had your ACAT assessment and moved into aged care or started receiving a home care package? If not, you can get in contact with My Aged Care to see if you’re eligible for aged care services. Seniors who live at home and are in receipt of a home care package can use their package to access social services. This could be arranging services so that you can visit family. Ask you home care package manager for help with this.
Finally if you live in an aged care facility, you could be feeling very isolated. Hopefully you’ve been lucky enough to find a home that is close to family and/ or friends. In this instance, there are usually lounges and garden areas where you can sit with family and enjoy each other’s company. And also remember that an aged care home is not a prison. Your relatives are able to take you on outings.
If your loved ones live far away, find out about accessing the internet at your aged care home in order to use social media and technology to connect with your loved ones. And give them a call to have a long chat when you need it.
We all need to connect and communicate no matter how old we are!