New Ways to Connect
Face-to-face visits are not always an option these days, but thankfully, long-distance relationships are easier than ever to maintain. Where phone calls or letters were once the only things to do with grandkids, grandparents can now interact with them in countless imaginative ways. Technology makes the difference, of course — armed with a smartphone, tablet or other device, family members can cross the miles with a click of a button — helping maintain family bonds and helping grandchildren stay connected with grandparents through calls, texts and video chats.
Bridging the Gap
While technology is the quickest way to bridge the communication gap, bridging the generation gap takes more doing. Younger family members wanting to stay connected with grandparents may need to change how they communicate. Older family members may need to try new technologies. For example, grandchildren looking for things to do with grandparents should understand that an older person may not want to engage with them on TikTok or Pokemon Go and are more likely to be comfortable with Facebook. By the same token, grandparents should not expect younger grandchildren to talk on the phone if they are more comfortable communicating through text or social media.
Building a strong relationship with grandchildren is one of the most important things a grandparent can do. Not only do these bonds help the generations develop empathy for one another, but they also provide a mentoring avenue for the younger person. Even if social distancing causes families to miss out on in-person contact, grandparents and grandchildren can still maintain these important relationships with technology.
Keep intergenerational activities informal and fun. Younger people often avoid conversation with older family members because they fear being “quizzed” about their activities. Instead, play a game, share news about important events, or discuss a subject you share a passion for. While video chatting, walk around and show off new blooms in a garden or the result of a school project. Or try skill-swapping, where one person demonstrates a skill such as baking, knitting or fishing. Some families even watch movies together while they video chat, starting them at the same time and pausing for popcorn halfway through.
Allow younger grandchildren to suggest things to do with grandparents. See if they can come up with creative ways to turn a favorite in-person activity into a game to play while video chatting. Since even young children own a smartphone these days, playing together on FaceTime, GoogleDuo, Skype or Zoom can be the next best thing to being there in person.
- Guessing games are a fun thing to do with grandkids. Ask them to choose a household object and show you a partial view. As you guess what it is, they can only answer yes or no to your questions. Take turns and find interesting items to display and guess.
- Set a time limit to find alphabet letters around your home. You can pronounce the letter together and show it over the phone for points.
- Describe an item to your grandkids and get them to draw it. This tests their visualization and problem-solving skills, and it’s always fun to see the pictures they draw.
Maintaining healthy connections with family is an important part of social wellness at The Heritage at Brentwood. Even if there’s a change of routine and less in-person contact because of social distancing or other conditions, team members at The Heritage find ways to help residents and their families connect through technology and other means. Find out more about The Heritage’s vibrant family-friendly culture. Contact our team!