With hectic schedules and an arm’s-length list of extracurricular activities, staying in touch with the grandkids can prove challenging. While grandchildren and grandparents alike treasure special occasions like family reunions or holidays, there are numerous ways to become more involved in each other’s daily lives, even from a distance. Building a strong relationship with your grandchildren is one of the most important things grandparents can do- and it doesn't have to be a chore.
The American Grandparents Association recommends using available technology to form bonds with grandchildren that go beyond simple phone calls. Doug Hewitt, co-author of "The Joyous Gift of Grandparenting," said that one of his favorite ways to keep in touch with his grandchildren - who at this point live all over the world - has been starting online photo albums and videos.
"The fact that they're doing activities loosens up grandchildren so that they are more forthcoming... [which] leads to a stronger bonding process," Hewitt said, referring to how shared projects can open up the lines of communication more than many other activities. What's more, it may seem like grandchildren's lives change extremely quickly, so creating a project that allows for regular updates and contact has shown to be one of the best ways to keep up with these changes.
Fortunately, in this day and age, we have a valuable wealth of communication resources at our fingertips. Take a look at these tips for how to bond with your grandkids from near or far.
1. Take full advantage of the Internet. With video chat like FaceTime and Skype, families are no longer confined to only hearing their loved ones' voices over the phone. Web streaming has made face-to-face communication possible, but there are a variety of other ways in which online forums can be used. For instance, with football season just starting, you may want to start up a fantasy league, asking your grandkids to join. Or perhaps you can play a game like Words with Friends, chess or checkers via the Internet.
2. Start a project. Grandparents are known for giving great gifts to their grandchildren, and the ones that are especially treasured are handmade. If you're good at quilting or crocheting, consider making your grandson or daughter a bedspread or afghan. Grandkids will want to check in to see how you're progressing and the gift you give them will be something they'll forever treasure.
3. Find similar likes and interests. The more you talk with your grandkids, the more likely you'll find similar tastes, whether in music, television, sports or current affairs. For example, the American Grandparents Association suggested starting a book club, where you can schedule a time to discuss what's happening in an engrossing novel or compelling autobiography.
The possibilities are endless when it comes to staying in touch with your grandkids. The relationships you form now will lay the foundation for experiences that will forever be priceless.
“I’ve got a memory like an… um… what’s that thing called again?”
We’ve all had moments where we feel like our memory has betrayed us. The other morning, I spent 30 minutes trying to remember where I put my car keys, only to find them attached to my belt loop. Whether it’s keys, anniversaries, or your granddaughter’s new boyfriend’s name, chances are you’ve let something important slip your mind. While we often relegate these moments of absent-mindedness to growing old, the truth is memory loss is not inevitable. In fact, recent research indicates that adults’ brains are still able to form new, memory-building neural networks in a process known as neuroplasticity.
So, you should have no trouble remembering that the granddaughter’s boyfriend, named Russell, is in a band, called Smashing Funkins, and that their first date was at Café Beefeaters. Right?
Not exactly. Even though memory loss is not a physical symptom of aging, the frequency of situations where we learn new things decreases as we get older. Think about it, in the beginning of your life, you were constantly learning new things, from walking and talking to reading and writing. That progressed to learning how to drive and doing algebra, and then you were learning how to raise kids of your own. The amount of new things we learn tapers off with age. This is normal, but it’s also the reason we find ourselves becoming more forgetful. In essence, we’ve forgotten how to remember. Luckily, with a little effort and self-discipline, you can retain and improve your power of recall. Here’s how:
Try Something New
A recent Swedish study entitled “Growth of Language-Related Brain Areas After Foreign Language Learning” found that memory recall improved in adults who learned a new language. Learning a new skill or investing in a new hobby helps keep your mind active and sharp. Try something that’s completely foreign to you, dance class, guitar lessons, quilting, etc. As part of your daily routine, try out new recipes, different driving routes or listening to new music.
A 2011 study showed participants who played a computer game over an extended period of time had significantly improved their concentration to the point of having a 50 percent lower rate of car accidents. You may enjoy puzzles like Sudoku or crosswords, or you can try out Lumosity.com, an online brain training program developed by neuroscientist Michael Scanlon. Their 40+ games are designed to improve memory, attention, flexibility, processing speed and problem solving.
Diet and Exercise
Scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological studies in La Jolla, CA, found that memory improved in both rats and humans through regular exercise. You can try new exercises like Zumba or yoga to switch up your routine. Also, stock your refrigerator with memory superfoods, which Dr. Gary Small, director of the UCLA Memory Clinic, says include antioxidant-rich, colorful fruits and vegetables, which protect your brain from harmful free radicals. Some superfoods include avocados, coconut oil, blueberries, broccoli, chia seeds, quinoa, red cabbage, rosemary, spinach and tomatoes.
Incorporating these new ideas takes discipline and a little effort, but the payoff of feeling more in control of your memory is certainly worth it, especially if you can save some time searching for those car keys.
Protect Your Medicare Information Online
Understanding Medicare Supplement
Neither Bankers Fidelity Life Insurance Company® nor its Medicare Supplement policies are affiliated with or endorsed by the U.S. Government, the federal Medicare program, or the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. This is a solicitation of Medicare Supplement insurance and an independent agent may call on you. The Medicare Supplement products issued by the Company are insurance policies. Policy form series B 21092 is issued by Bankers Fidelity Life Insurance Company®, Atlanta, GA; policy form series B 21492 is issued by Bankers Fidelity Assurance CompanyTM, Atlanta, GA. Limitations and exclusions apply; actual policy provisions control. Rates subject to change on a class basis. Individually underwritten; application to determine eligibility required.
Products not sold in AK, CA, CT, MA, ME, MN, NH, NY, OR, RI, VT, WA or WI. Plan availability can vary by state.
Get a Quote