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  • Babysitting is Good For Grandparents?

There’s a story that has resurfaced about how babysitting is good for grandparents. It’s a catchy headline to explain a study from 2014 that demonstrated how people who were around their grandkids had better cognitive scores and were able to prevent or delay the onset of dementia (although childminding for 5 days or more a week led to lower results).

Two grandparents with two young children

The results make sense, even though this study was conducted on a tiny sample of people. Seniors who don’t see their families much tell us how lonely they are. Sometimes a senior ends up spending a lot of time alone because they are a widow, divorced, their kids have moved away, and there are plenty of seniors who never had children. Anyone can be lonely, even if they are surrounded by people.

About the grandkids

If you’ve got grandkids and they are close to you, do invite them over. Have some games or activities that they can participate in so they get to know you, and they aren’t left getting bored while the adults do all the talking. Go see their concerts at school, be a cheerleader at their sports events, and take an interest in what they are doing. If you learn about some pop culture, you’ll have lots of avenues to connect with them.

Lots of grandparents live a long way away from their grandkids, but these days it’s easy to connect by phone, FaceTime, and all kinds of technology. Kids still love getting a card or note in the mail too.

Of course, there are other things you can do to keep busy, and social.

Plan some events

Create an excuse to get out! Rent a social room in your building, or book space at a café or restaurant in the neighbourhood. People love to connect around food and even if no one wants to cook, it’s very convenient to pick up ready to serve food at a local deli or have it catered. Create a simple theme for your event (an unbirthday party, or an unretirement event, or host a paint nite), and make something happen.

Join a club or create your own

If you belonged to clubs or associations before now, this is probably easy for you. Find a club that interests you and get started. If you’ve never been a joiner, think of this as an opportunity to do something new and exciting. You can start small and attend one off events instead of committing to something for a long period of time. Attend a feast at the local seniors’ centre or legion; volunteer to collect tickets at a festival; check out a walking or exercise club. If those ideas don’t sound interesting, keep exploring until you find something that clicks. To get some more ideas, check out Meetup to see what’s in your local area.

Go back to school

Hanging around kids can be a great way to pick up on their infectious laughter and zest for life. Most schools have a formal process for their volunteers, including setting up a schedule, vulnerable sector screenings, and so on. They are also notoriously short staffed, so go to your local school and see what kind of help you can provide. If you love to read or have a flair for dramatic voices, you could read stories during reading week. At the beginning of a school year, little ones need help putting on their shoes at recess, and extra hands are welcome for hot lunch days. Figure out what you are good at, and help with that.

Get to the hospital

Have you heard of these programs for volunteers to manage a coffee and water trolly to take around to hospital visitors, or cuddle babies in the NICU? If you’re in good health and enjoy the long walks of hospital corridors, being a volunteer at the hospital could be a great way to help others. Hospitals are another place that can be notoriously short staffed and very appreciative of their volunteers.

Leverage the internet

Maybe you don’t like getting out, or your mobility is limited. If that’s the case, jump on the bandwagon and explore the internet! Lots of seniors are connecting in meaningful ways by leveraging the digital age. If you’re not computer savvy, take a class! Always be smart about protecting your personal information, and make sure you learn how to avoid getting scammed. Connect in online groups where you can meet other seniors and chat about what’s on your mind, find things to do in the community, play online games that help keep you sharp, and so much more.

Be conscious about avoiding loneliness

Getting lonely can happen very quickly. Lonely people can even feel isolated when surrounded by others if no one is connecting in a meaningful way. Make a choice to foster some great connections, and if you sometimes find it hard, remind yourself that stopping yourself from feeling lonely is something that you can do. It might feel hard at times, but the best things sometimes are.

At Elder Move Inc. we help seniors to downsize, organize, and relocate. We’re specialists at making sure that your home is the place where you feel comfortable, safe, and content. If you’re interested in getting some help and you’re in the Edmonton, AB, complete the contact form and get in touch!

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