Tips for Seniors to Connect with Their Grandchildren

August 8, 2023
August 8, 2023

The relationship between grandparents and their grandchildren is undoubtedly a special one. There are a multitude of benefits for both sides of the relationship but also some challenges in keeping the connection strong.  

One challenge is a generational difference in communication. Children, tweens, teens, and young adults are often more comfortable with texting, video calling, and social media than their grandparents, who may prefer phone calls or even written letters.  

Another challenge is distance, with over half of U.S. grandparents having at least one grandchild who lives more than 200 miles away, and about a third living more than 50 miles from their closest grandchild, according to AARP.

What can you do? These tips can make it easier to connect with your grandchildren today.

Benefits of the grandparent - grandchild relationship

Beyond the wonderful memories and shared milestones, connecting with grandchildren regularly positively impacts the mental, emotional, and physical health of both of you in ways that include the following.

For the grandchild:

  • Emotional support and closeness can reduce the risk of depression.
  • Grandparents’ steady presence can provide a sense of security and stability.
  • Another source(s) of comfort and unconditional love can reduce negative behavioral issues.
  • Experience and wisdom passed down can strengthen familial ties.
  • Shared interests can foster a sense of belonging.
  • Financial support and caregiving can improve physical health.

For the grandparent:

  • Emotional closeness can reduce the risk of depression.
  • Caregiving may boost brain function.
  • Relationships with younger people keep you active, which can improve physical health.
  • Caregiving and/or time spent with grandchildren offers purpose, which can strengthen emotional well-being.
  • Increased opportunities for social connection can have cognitive benefits.
  • Expanded learning opportunities (i.e., the latest trends and technology) keep the mind sharp.

How to connect with grandchildren

How do you overcome the challenges of distance and communication style to connect with grandchildren to keep your bond strong? Consider these options:

  • Set a weekly date – Meet for coffee, go out to eat, or make a meal together. For younger grandkids, set a weekly ice cream date.
  • Exercise together – Create your own walking group or, for younger grandkids, make a weekly stop at the playground, for example.
  • Take a class together – Perhaps a painting class, cooking class, or learning a new language or instrument.
  • Go to the movies – Rotate who picks or have movie marathons at home.
  • Cheer together – Watch sports or attend sporting events together. Or, if they play a sport, attend their games.
  • Go on adventures – Take a trip together or with the whole family.  
  • Teach each other something new – This could be anything from sharing hobbies to history to learning technology.
  • Read together – Create your own book club, or go to the library and pick out books together.
  • Create together – This could be crafting, building something together, or even repairing items around the house.
  • Volunteer together – Whether it’s a cause you’re both passionate about or something in your community, volunteering is a great way to connect with grandchildren.
  • Start a collection – This could be as simple as a rock collection to an extensive baseball card collection.
  • Have a game night – Play your favorite board games or video games. Make a game out of learning more about each other with 20 questions.
  • Work on puzzles together – Set up a space for a puzzle, and take turns working on it each time you stop by.
  • Exchange recipes – This is a great way to pass down family recipes.
  • Explore family history – Work together to trace back family lines.

If you live far enough away and/or cannot visit regularly, most of these options to connect with grandchildren can also be done virtually. For example, you can discuss books you’re reading during calls, play games together online, and watch movies or sports together while on a video call. What’s more, if you’re not tech-savvy, use that as another opportunity to connect with grandchildren, as they can teach you!

Another option is to host a grandparent camp if you’re able. It’s a way to connect with your grandchildren over some one-on-one time away from the distractions of both of your day-to-day lives. You might do this one week every summer, and it’s a great way to give parents a break too!

Even if you’re no longer in your own home, there are still plenty of options to entertain and connect with your grandchildren in a senior living community like Friendship. We love involving your family in your experience here, especially the grandchildren, from hosting multigenerational activities to simply spending time on campus in your residence or beautiful outdoor spaces.

To learn more, download our
Family Decision Toolkit

Family Decision Toolkit


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