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Grandparents Day: Let's take a minute to appreciate grandparents

For many of us, grandparents are the family’s anchor. So if you have grandparents in your life, take a minute to appreciate them.

September 18, 2018

Grandparents Day

Like many Brits hearing about Grandparents’ Day, you might be cynical. Isn’t this just another stunt from America, to sell more stuff? That’s a bit unfair. The grandmother behind it didn’t need more gifts. With 43 grandchildren of her own, she already saw plenty of chocolates and flowers. Instead, she wanted to mark the unique relationship she saw across the generations.

In fact, it can be hard to find a special ‘grandparents’ card’ in the High Street. The celebration is much more about spending time together, with family re-unions and community events. It came to the UK in 1990 through the charity that’s now called Age UK. Like the American version, its timing reflects the autumn years of a grandparent’s life – this year it takes place on 7th October.

It’s said that grandchildren and grandparents get along because they have a common enemy. There’s some truth in that, as there are good things about being one step away from mum and dad. Many grandparents can stay close to a child’s world, without having the same responsibility. For children, granny and grandpa’s house can be a safe place to explore. It’s away from the rules at home. And it’s even better when they can stay up late and enjoy a few treats.

Despite the old joke, granny isn’t just a babysitter who watches the kids instead of the TV. In two generations, the number of youngsters being cared for by grandparents has risen from 33% to 82%. These days, we live longer and have fewer children. So more of them grow up while their grandparents are still alive. With fewer babies born, grandparents can give them a little more attention. As more mothers now have a job, having several caregivers is a big help.

This caregiving supports parents, too, as extra emotional support goes a long way. Sharing experiences of bringing up children can bring families closer, as we go through the same challenges as our parents. Mum or dad may remember their own temper tantrums, and start to think about the sacrifices their own parents made.

Many mums and dads turn to their parents because nurseries and childminders cost so much. This can work wonderfully when grandparents enjoy looking after little ones. But it can be tougher if this is a full-time necessity. The good news for children is that those who are close to their grandparents tend to have fewer emotional problems. They are more engaged at school and more likely to help others.

There’s good news for granny and grandpa, too. Some studies show that those of us taking care of grandchildren keep our mental capacities in later life. We’re less likely to develop dementia. Time with youngsters means a richer and more active life, with a lot more running around. Of course, some grandads are experts in getting kids into even more scrapes than normal.

Celebrating grandparents

For many of us, grandparents are the family’s anchor. They join-up the generations, in a way that no-one else can. With memories and stories, they link us to a time before Facebook and Twitter. Youngsters may have more distractions than ever before, but they’ll always remember their favourite grandpa or grandma.

So if you have grandparents in your life, take a minute to appreciate them. Countless thousands of people take part in Grandparents’ Day, going to fundraising parties or just sharing family recipes. Connecting youngsters (and the young-at-heart) in this way also highlights the needs of older people. Not all of our 14 million grandparents are elderly, but many are affected by issues like loneliness and the challenges facing social care.

While you’re at it, you might also want to pass on some advice to your friends and neighbours. If they’re planning a family anytime soon, suggest they follow the wise words of American writer Gore Vidal, “Never have children, only grandchildren.” If only it were possible…

About Taking Care

At Taking Care, we’re working on the next generation of products and services to help people age well. We want you to feel empowered and independent so you can enjoy life in your own home for longer.

With our personal alarms for the elderlyfall detectors, key safesGPS personal alarms and medical helplines we already help over 70,000 people stay in the homes they love. We offer 24/7 help at the touch of a pendant or personal alarm unit, plus a medical support line staffed by qualified nurses. We also have pharmacists on hand to answer questions on pills and prescriptions. 

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