In recent years, more and more Americans have taken a step back from their hectic lives to focus on family. Yet, all too often, our most significant family membersour grandparentsare ignored. As the return to home trend continues, it is only fitting that one day of the year be set aside to honor our grandparents. Sept. 12 is National Grandparents Day, a time to celebrate those special people who are always there with a hug, a laugh or something special.
National Grandparents Day originated with Marian McQuade, a housewife in Fayette County, W. Va. Her primary motivation was to help the lonely elderly living in nursing homes. She also hoped to persuade grandchildren to tap the wisdom and heritage their grandparents could provide. Finally, in 1978, President Jimmy Carter proclaimed that National Grandparents Day would be celebrated every year on the first Sunday after Labor Day.
According to a recent study sponsored by Bankers Life and Casualty Company, an insurance company dedicated to the financial needs of seniors, elderly adults wish to be remembered as responsible and loving grandparents/parents more than anything else.
Spending this special day with your grandparents is one of the greatest gifts they can receive from you, said Donna Avolt, manager of the Lafayette, Ind., Bankers branch.
It also has several health benefits for senior Americans. Robert N. Butler, M.D., world-renowned authority on aging and head of the International Longevity Center, an affiliate of Mt. Sinai Medical School, New York, said: Playing with grandchildren is a great way to stay young at heart. Chasing a toddler around can be just as much exercise as an afternoon at the gym, and is more fun.
Scientists have also found that laughing is contagious and is good for the heart. According to Nobel Prize nominees Dr. Gael Crystal and Dr. Patrick Flanagan, children laugh about 400 times a day, while elderly adults laugh only 10-15 times daily.
The grandparent/grandchild relationship is one of the more special bonds in the world and celebrating this relationship can only strengthen the bond, said Avolt. She suggests the following activities to help families celebrate this Grandparents Day together:
Have grandparents teach grandchildren a card game or play a favorite game. Playing this game can become a tradition. It can also be fun for the grandchild to learn a game that their grandparents enjoyed when they were young.
Go to a favorite place together. Whether it be the grandparent or grandchilds favorite spot, it can provide the opportunity to learn more about everyones interests.
Create a hot or not list. Grandparents list hot items, toys, television shows from when they were young, and compare lists with the grandchilds.
Write titles and dates on the backs of photos. In the process, grandparents can tell stories about relatives and help to preserve family history.
Create a family Web page. In doing this, the child can learn more about family history and the grandparent can learn a little more about current technology.
Make homemade ice cream or bake cookies. Not only is this a tasty idea, but it is fun to decide what flavor to make and to eat the creation together.
Linda Heacox is a certified senior adviser with Bankers Life and Casualty Company.