Reach out to the seniors in your lifeApril 22, 2021
Over the years, relationships have changed, especially those young people have with their grandparents. According to the Australian Institute of Family Studies, in the late 1980s, people had much stronger connections with their grandparents. These connections were marked by grandparents often taking on the role of caregiver to help out the mother in times of need or to give her a break. In the years past, multi-generational living was a common thing for families.
However, over the years, families began moving away and starting a family on their own, often living a distance from grandparents. In Australia, only 20 per cent of families live in a multi-generational household. The changes in relationships and living arrangements affect all involved. What do we lose when we are more distant from the older generation? Let’s take a look.
WHAT DO WE GAIN FROM CLOSE CONNECTIONS WITH THE OLDER GENERATION?
- Older generations impart wisdom due to their life experiences. Consequently, they can impart knowledge and wisdom to the younger generations who are struggling with problems. Many seniors have been through economic crises, job losses, and relationship issues that they can share experiences of.
- Close relationships with grandparents make us healthier. According to research and scientific studies, people who have closer ties with their grandparents are more emotionally stable. The study collected data over a decade and concluded that close connections with grandparents reduced symptoms of depression, increased cognitive performance, and improved behavioural attitude.
- Grandparent bonds create more happiness. Happiness tends to be linked closely with our relationships. This is the same for seniors, too. When seniors get to spend plenty of time with their grandchildren, children, and friends, it creates greater social and emotional wellbeing. A report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) recognises the high number of people who are older that feel lonely — a full one-quarter of people over age 65 are socially isolated, leading to loneliness and sadness.
WHY DO CLOSE CONNECTIONS FADE?
As much as families may want to stay close to their relatives, including ageing parents and grandparents, it is increasingly difficult. Some families now have grandparents living overseas, which makes things even harder. With the distance between them, it is impossible to spend time together. Families must also rely on virtual visits, which isn’t the same.
Even for those people who are in the area, life can get so busy. People get caught up with their own lives, working and on the go all the time. They don’t mean to, but they end up neglecting time with older family members like their ageing parents or grandparents.
Often, grandparents and seniors don’t speak out when they are socially isolated. They may think that they are a bother if they say anything, so they keep their loneliness to themselves. However, that doesn’t make the pain go away.
SOLUTIONS TO END ELDER LONELINESS & ISOLATION
While seniors are suffering with loneliness, there is hope. You can reach out to your loved one or a senior you know with words of encouragement. Offer to spend some quality time with that older adult in your life and enhance their life as well as your own.
Sometimes, you just have to make a plan to reach out and accomplish the goals for connecting. If you don’t, life can overwhelm you and time will slip by. You can start with a phone call or by sending a card, then move to making a visit. Then you can make your visits more regular until they become like a regular routine. You will be starting a tradition in your family that benefits everyone!