According to AARP, 33% of the 2,500 respondents to the “Grandparents Today” survey have at least one grandchild who lives more than 50 miles away. Some 50% said the had at least one grandchild living 200 miles away or more. These numbers tell us it’s safe to assume that many seniors are forced to keep up with their grandchildren or others in younger generations without actually seeing them face-to-face due to geographical restrictions. So, how’s the best way to do that? How can you as a senior keep in touch with younger family members and friends? How can you nurture these relationships?
Obviously, there are many ways to utilize technology to stay in touch. The miles disappear when you connect either through the phone using the Facetime feature or use video chat sites like Skype. You can have your grandchildren and adult children add you to their family share group on their cell phone. This allows you to see the photos they take and share with the family and they can see yours. You can also use platforms like Facebook or Instagram to keep up with what’s going on in your grandchildren’s lives or text them. If you aren’t well versed in how to use technology to do this, visit your local senior center to educate yourself on what’s available and how to use it. However, although technology is perhaps the easiest way to stay in touch, it’s far from the only method…
Send Care Packages
Get to know your grandchildren and send them personalized care packages. If they are small, you can include toys, their favorite candies, etc. If they are older, in the tween or teen years, include gift cards to favorite stores, gas cards, movie cards, pack favorite foods, etc. Also, include a handwritten letter inside the package. Many young people today find getting a written letter to be refreshingly different from the digital variety. Even if they don’t admit it, they will treasure these messages from you.
Send Written Letters or Emails
Yes, we just mentioned letters as part of a care package. However, the letters can be on their own as well. You can also opt for emails, word of warning— young people often ignore emails, so you should probably let them know you are emailing them via text if you plan on going this route. When constructing these letters, you don’t have to focus only on what’s going on in the here and now. You can use this as a way to share the past, communicate funny family stories, tell them their history, but of course, talk about anything relevant as well.
The younger generation is extremely stressed. They have a great deal of responsibility and pressure that simply didn’t exist in year’s past. Thankfully, you as their grandparent, or non-related friend, have a wonderful opportunity to encourage them and be part of their support system, even if they live miles away. In fact, even if you don’t live far away from your grandkids, you can use these tips to improve your relationship and stay in touch when you are unable to get out of your house to visit. Just make an effort to know them. That’s the main goal. That above all else will make the biggest difference.