Did you know that Sept. 11 is National Grandparents Day this year? In 1978, President Carter proclaimed that National Grandparents Day would be celebrated every year on the first Sunday after Labor Day.
The idea for a National Grandparents Day was first forwarded by Marian McQuade, a homemaker in West Virginia, who wanted to raise awareness about loneliness among the elderly. She thought that a day to recognize grandparents would help grandchildren to remember to take time to visit with their older relatives and benefit from their wisdom.If you have an elderly loved one living in Cincinnati, here are some great ways to celebrate — even if he or she is living in a retirement home or recuperating in short-term rehab.
1. Family story time
Many of us have fond memories of time we’ve spent with our grandmas and grandpas and of stories they’ve told us over the years. But remember that, even if you had spent every waking moment listening to your elderly loved one recount every detail his or her life, he or she would still have decades’ worth of stories left to tell you.
This National Grandparents Day, take some time to listen to your grandparents. Ask questions about family members you never had a chance to meet, about places they’ve seen or things they’ve done. Ask about their careers, about people they used to work with, about lessons they learned.
The more questions you ask, the more you can learn. And, if you bring a digital voice recorder, or use your smartphone’s voice memo app, you can those preserve those stories and pass them on to your children and grandchildren. Give your family’s history a voice other than your own!
2. Bring in dinner
What’s your grandma or grandpa’s favorite food? If you don’t already know, go back and re-read idea No. 1 above. But if you do already know, what’s stopping you from making that dish or ordering it from his or her favorite restaurant and bringing it over to share?
Mealtimes are excellent opportunities for discussion. And providing a meal is a wonderful gesture that shows someone just how much you value his or her wellbeing.
Call your grandma or grandpa and ask if you can bring over lunch or dinner this National Grandparents Day. Bring a movie or flip on the game to watch over dessert! Just your presence there will show your grandparent that you care.
3. Game night
Why not load up a few of the younger members of the family — you, your siblings, your cousins — and head over to visit and play a big family game?
Many nursing homes and continuing care retirement communities like Cincinnati’s Marjorie P. Lee offer residents and their families the opportunity to reserve meeting rooms for larger gatherings. If there are a lot of you grandkids, call ahead to your grandparent’s residence and find out if a room with tables and chairs is available.
Bring a cooler full of drinks and snacks, or bring along a few gallons of ice cream to dish out. Take a boombox or smartphone speakers with you and play your grandparent’s favorite music.
You can make National Grandparents Day a full family party, even if your grandparent no longer lives in his or her own home!
National Grandparents Day shouldn’t come just once a year.
Who says you need a specific day to set aside for your grandparents? Set aside some time every week or every month to head over and see what they’re up to!
It doesn’t have to be a long visit. Just 30 minutes or an hour is enough to show that you love your grandparent and care about your his or her wellbeing, and show that you greatly value his or her life experience.