Earlier this year, I shared about how multigenerational living works for us and why senior issues are so important to us! The relationships that younger people have with older adults is something that has been important to me at many times throughout my life.
I’m thrilled to be continuing our partnership with Ready to Care to share more about the importance of caring for the older adults in our lives and how Ready to Care can support seniors.
KIDS CONNECTING WITH SENIORS
Throughout my life I’ve had a number of important older adults in my life. I have memories from elementary school that have impacted me my entire life and during my years teaching first grade, there were a number of experiences we had that showed me just how important it is for younger people to connect with older adults.
The knowledge and the stories that seniors have to share are important for younger generations. These relationships are also important as the number of older adults in our lives increases and they find themselves needing more support.
SPENDING TIME WITH OLDER ADULTS
One of the easiest ways to help our children connect with seniors is to create opportunities for them to spend time together. When I was teaching, we took the first graders to local senior living communities to sing holiday songs before school ended for winter break. Those field trips are some of my favorite memories from my time in the classroom.
My students loved going out into the community to share the music they’d practiced for weeks. They were always so proud. The seniors always seemed just as delighted. We would spend time visiting with them before heading back to school. Stories were shared on those winter afternoons that my students would talk about for weeks after our visits.
The senior communities invited us back year after year and we would see many of the same faces. I loved the relationships I developed with them as well. I loved learning about their families, their traditions, and their lives.
It was really just about spending time together and enjoying the company of the kids and the seniors.
SHARING MEMORIES, STORIES AND MORE
Seniors are at a greater risk for feeling isolated, so finding ways to reach out and connect with them is an easy way to support them as they grow older.
Singing carols was a simple field trip for us to plan each year. It was partially inspired by my experience in fifth grade with what my teacher called our WISE journals.
For the program, each student was paired with a local senior in our community. We had a journal that we shared between the two of us. Each week I would write to my senior pen pal. Midweek, the journals would be delivered by parent volunteers to the older adults. They would have a chance to write back to us before the journals were picked up on the weekend.
Our writing went back and forth for much of the school year so we had months to develop relationships with our partners. We shared stories about our lives and I learned a lot about how our lives were different and how they were alike in many ways. For me, the time we spent journaling to each other left a lasting impact on me.
My mom was one of the parents who volunteered to deliver journals and I would go along with her on the weekends. It gave me the chance to visit with many of the seniors participating in the program and hear more of their stories.
I still think about many of the things they shared with me when I was just a fifth-grader. They had a lasting impression on me and have led me to always value the knowledge and experience that they have whether they’re part of my family, friends, or mentors.
Without our aging adults, so much would be lost from our lives and that’s why I feel it’s important to encourage our kids to develop relationships with the seniors in our lives. It’s also one way we can support them as they grow older and face new challenges.
READY TO CARE
Ready to Care is an initiative aimed to enhance the lives of aging adults and their families. It challenges us to complete Care Missions.
Care Missions offer different ways to learn about the aging crisis and issues that impact seniors. Some offer ways to serve older adults and find other causes that support them.
If you’re looking for an easy way to connect with and support the seniors in your community, Ready to Care makes it simple with a new Care Mission sent to your phone each week! It’s a simple way to learn more about the issues facing them as they age and to learn more about how we can support them.
While all of us benefit from kindness and connecting with others, seniors are at greater risk for isolation and feelings of loneliness, limited mobility, and chronic conditions.
So how can we help? Join Ready to Care to start receiving Care Missions for simple ideas and try some of these:
- Share a meal – Eating alone can lead older adults to have great feelings of depression and lead to poor eating. So sit down and enjoy a meal with a senior in your life.
- Drop by for a visit – Loneliness is a huge issue especially for the 11.3 million seniors who live alone. Nearly a third of seniors who live outside of nursing homes live alone and as age increases so does the likelihood of living alone, so don’t hesitate to visit!
- Invite a senior out – Whether it’s going out to lunch, going to the library, or visiting a local park, it’s so easy to invite an aging adult in your life out to spend time. Inviting them to come with you to the playground when you take the kids is a great way to help battle the loneliness and give your kids a chance to connect as well.
- Make a donation – Find an organization in your area and either donate financially or donate your time. We have a number of local organizations but you can learn more about some great projects that support seniors on the Ready to Care website.
Living in a multigenerational household means that the issues seniors are facing are part of our everyday lives. But many of us have important people in our lives who are growing older. Before 2020, for the first time in human history, people aged 65 and older will outnumber children under the age of 5.
Now is a great time for us to help our children connect with the older adults in our lives! The bonds and stories shared will last forever!
For more easy ways to get involved in supporting seniors, visit the Ready to Care website and sign up. Grambo has signed up, so you can sign up if you’re a senior yourself too!