How Your Kids Can Support Older Family Members

During the transition to home care, the focus is often on how adults can support the care of their elderly parents and family members. However, there is much that an entire family can do to show love for their elders, including kids of all ages. This helps strengthen generational bonds and makes this time in a person’s life special. Here are some ways that parents can involve their kids in caring for their senior family members. 

0-Preschool

If an elderly family member begins living in your home with your family, this will give them many chances to bond with your kids. Depending on their capabilities, they may not be able to look after them as they would before requiring home care, but this shouldn’t diminish their time spent together. Include them on family outings and activities like bedtime as much as possible.  If they are living outside your home, visit on a regular schedule to maintain connection – you could do a weekly “story time” or picnic just for your young kids to spend time with them. If health concerns or physical distance makes these visits impractical, you can use technology like video conferencing for them to talk regularly. Ask them to draw pictures for their older family members that you can include in mailings to them, as well.  By making their grandparents a normal part of their lives, you encourage younger kids to include them in their thoughts at all times. 

Grade School

Throughout their early grade school years, there are many opportunities for kids to get to know their grandparents and older family members. Encourage them to support them as they would any other member of the family. Get your kids to write notes  to them often, and share stories about what’s going on in their own lives. One project they can work on together for many years is a family history. Start with a family tree when the child is young, and, as they grow their grandparent can share stories about the people they are recording. As your kids get more capable, ask them to assist their older family members physically, as well. They can get their meals to the table, or bring them their coats. This will make being helpful to the elderly second nature for your kids as they grow up. 

Teenagers

When they become teenagers, your kids may find it harder to relate to an older family member, but don’t let them stop talking or spending time with them. Set aside chores that your kids can do for their senior relatives that have become difficult due to mobility issues, such as keeping the yard tidy or helping with laundry. If they are learning how to cook, their older family member may even have some good pointers. 

Even if they do not live with your family, setting aside the time to help an elderly family member and keep them company is important for their health and your kids’. Instilling this sense of family will give them a better connection to their relatives for the rest of their lives.