Seniors Outreach - August 23, 2017

I think we can all agree…Healthy people reach out to others and try to develop and nurture close relationships with them, whether they’re family members or friends. And, although this may take some sacrifices on their part, it can be truly worth their effort. For seniors, especially, who sometimes feel “sidelined”, under-appreciated, or alone, the effects of bonding with others can be far reaching, even to their physical health.

Just as important are intergenerational relationships—especially time spent with grandkids—and this can reap great benefits for everyone involved. Margaret Mead said that “Connections between generations are essential for the mental health and stability of a nation.”

And a grandparent—even an “adopted” one—can help to bring that stability and safety to a child’s heart. They can be a safe harbor from a bullying atmosphere, or just a calming agent and listening ear when the stress gets crazy in their lives. In turn, a child’s response can help to show the senior that they are appreciated and needed, as well.

KidsHealth.org from Nemours has several suggestions on their website for keeping grandparents involved in children’s lives. Things such as visiting often, staying in touch with technology, posting pictures, sharing mail or email, passing on a special skill or hobby, or even charting a family tree together. When Seniors Outreach was fortunate enough to have staff who could coordinate an intergenerational program, many of these things were being facilitated. This was through regular gatherings at the Three Hills CommUnity Drop In Centre—usually bi-monthly, which would lead to weekly one-on-ones happening throughout the various surrounding communities. Most everyone involved in these times together talks with fondness about them!

Last year the ‘Gifts for Grandparents’ program was truly an intergenerational happening! For instance, children decorated the gift bags, and teens and pre-teens “talked-up” the idea and outfitted the collection boxes. Adults and families from the community got involved in providing the presents, while others got together to fill the gift bags. After their involvement, some of the teachers got responses from children about the ‘eye-opening experience’. Like the fact that they did not know there might be people in their own communities who aren’t able to have a family Christmas, say with a Christmas tree or gifts. The seniors who received the gifts were quite grateful, but the children and teens and others were happy to be involved, also.

Why don’t we all think of ways we can get and stay connected, intergenerationally!