Sunday, August 25, 2013

Grandparents' Day

Poster from
I received a challenge from Esther at Caring Across Generations in a comment with a recent blog post:

  Write a post about grandparents for 
National Grandparents' Day September 8, 2013. 

So here goes. I decided to write for the grandchild and others who want to know how to interact with their grandparent/friend who has Alzheimer's or who is getting up there in years. 

It is difficult to talk with your grandparents who may not remember what you are saying if they have dementia. They may have Anosognosia Dementia and not know they have memory problems such as our friend has; anosognosia has caused so much confusion for our friend and causes so much grief for his granddaughter. The grandparent may not remember what they ask you and how you answer. Be patient with them when they ask again. They have emotions and the emotional connection of just being with you is so important. We have discovered that emotions live on even if memory brain cells do not.  Get over being annoyed. They can't help it. 

Visit them or spend time with them. I realize this is so difficult for many families. Those grandparents are most comfortable in their own home, but make family holidays special while you can.  Ask to hold their hand if that is comfortable for you. Emotions count! We enjoyed so much spending last Christmas with family and may not always have the luxury of traveling to do that. When you are with them do not spend all your time on you phone or electronic device. Be with them even watching a TV program with them.  My husband's son calls him often and this is a joy to my husband hearing about his grandchildren and great grandchildren. 

Find out what you can do with them. Go with them to a restaurant or a park or a movie. Invite them to your sports event as my husband's granddaughter did for her gymnastics event. Enjoy their smiles. Take pictures with them.  When my husband's ex-brother-in-law mows our lawn, we take him to eat or we have a meal with him at our home. This provides happy times for my husband.

Outings and special chairs.  My husband has favorite chairs everywhere he goes. He has a place he sits at the grocery store and knows he can call me on my cell if he feels I am taking too long. He has a comfortable chair at church that everyone knows is HIS chair. He has a chair at Toastmasters when we go there and my Toastmaster group allows him to be a permanent visitor. As the disease progresses, the grandparent will not be able to enjoy outings, so as a grandchild you need to plan now what to do with that grandparent before that disease progresses and how he/she will be comfortable on the outing.

Do not write off the old person. Years ago I was in a hospital room when a granddaughter broke down at the deathbed of her grandmother. She had to leave the room to cry saying she wished she had spent more time with this loved one as she had wanted. I grieved with her. As the sign above says, "Do something today that your future self will thank you for."

Send them notes. When they give you a gift, they are part of the older generation that expects thank you notes. They may have a fixed income, and plan for your gift. They may not text or receive email anymore for those gift acknowledgments. Receiving a note they can see again and again goes a long way. 

I absolutely loved being a granddaughter and as the oldest grandchild on both sides of the family have many memories that I included in my book, Getting Off the Niceness Treadmill, for the next generation.  After that book was published my cousins contacted me with more stories of our grandparents. Years later a letter I mailed my grandmother when I was a child was returned to me after that grandmother died.  Apparently she treasured that letter.

As a caregiver for my husband who has mixed dementia, I also am privileged to have family care about me. Thank you all so much. I do very much appreciate your care for me, the step-grandmother, and love giver for my care receiver husband. 


  1. What a wonderful post! I know it will be used and blessed by many! I learned quite a lot from it. I didn't realize that emotional connection was so important. That is quite amazing!

    1. Thanks, Georgene.

      It looks like Esther is going to use this post. She wants a picture and we will see about that as I try to maintain some privacy (if not honesty) on this blog.

      Then she asked for my Twitter handle!!! Good gracious gravy, folks! Me tweet? Ufda! How modern do you want this senior citizen to become? I stopped at Pinterest. That's all folks! But I do get requests for Klout and Link-In and who knows what else!

  2. This is great advice. When my husband's father was ill, we were hesitant to bring our very-young sons to visit. I will regret that forever. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Thanks so much. My Lifewriting teacher is submitting this to a newspaper.

    2. Marianne! Maybe I will get famous like you! This is going in the Winter Haven News Chief and maybe another paper!

    3. Just saw it & commented - FANTASTIC!!!

  3. A Commentary from this blog called "Contact With Elders Is Important" is in two papers: