It was reading hour with Grandma. The grandkids loved coming over and listening to the story continue. Grandma always made sure there was ice cream or a fresh summer pie waiting for the kids when they arrived. Mary Ellen always made sure she chose a classic from her days in school when she was about their age. It was fun for her to relive the story and share it with a new generation. And although she enjoyed spending time with other seniors in her 55 plus community, she enjoyed spending as much time as possible with her grandchildren.
Keeping mentally active using brain activities is a huge topic for seniors. Everything from brain games to continuing learning is all the hype these days. And, with reason. Some medical experts or scientists believe that keeping the brain active is a healthy component of the aging process. And while challenging the mind is a good thing, there is another element that can be added brain health. Emotional health. Connecting with and helping others is something that can be heartwarming and can bring some joy into anyone’s. Plus, it can be so satisfying for seniors to see young people grow. Intergenerational activities can be easily overlooked and yet very beneficial to seniors and younger people alike. Do you have grandchildren, neighborhood children, or young people at church you know that could benefit from some elder wisdom? Putting time into nurturing and caring for younger generations can be highly mind stimulating and emotionally rewarding for all involved. Retirement brings seniors some extra time to plan. Here are some ideas to help you get started.
If you have younger grandchildren, consider collecting some books appropriate to their age level from the library right here in Rio Rancho. Plan a weekly reading day and spend time together. Or, have older children read to you. There are volunteer programs available at local libraries or after school programs. You can check and see if there are any programs in your area involving seniors reading to children, or visa versa. Some nursing homes offer activities giving seniors the opportunity to be read to by children. With Covid-19 still on the horizon, these types of opportunities may be limited at times.
Educating. If you are still active and mobile, volunteering to teach Sunday school or Vacation Bible School for kids in your community here in Rio Rancho or Albuquerque may be of interest to you. If you would prefer something a bit lower key, you might consider helping out with snacks or games during these events or volunteering to be a Sunday school teacher assistant. Being around children and helping them learn is exhilarating and mind stimulating.
Kitchen activities. Many younger people would benefit from learning more about nutrition and food preparation from older generations. Or perhaps you would like to explore food creations more yourself. Invite your grandchildren over and get them involved! Many senior living apartments offer kitchens perfect for cooking together. Make use of your kitchen! Choose a recipe together, go shopping and prepare the meal. You would be surprised how much conversation this activity can stimulate. Create memories together!
It is possible to combine brain stimulating activities and young people! Seniors, children and teenagers alike can find games to be enjoyed by all. Don’t worry about the latest and greatest technology kids are used to these days. Bring back old-fashioned fun. Teach a child how to play checkers. Plan some card game evenings. Prepare some fun snacks and make it a weekly event for the whole family!
Explore together. If you are still mobile and active, check out activities to do in Rio Rancho or perhaps even Albuquerque or Santa Fe. If you are interested in history or cultural events, make these interests come alive for your children or grandchildren. Don’t be worried about trying to find something a younger person is already interested in. You can help them develop an appreciation for the things you love. Perhaps its art. Take them to an art gallery or a watercolor basics class. Look for ways to develop interests in a younger person. You can share the same passion! New Mexico has much to offer. Cultural events, historical sites, nature, the arts and so much more. Inspiring a grandchild or younger friend can be rewarding for both of you.
If you have a family member or friend who lives in a Life Care community and requires assisted living, a memory care program or a nursing home, you can find ways to brighten up a senior’s day with visits, FaceTime or video messages. Bring the kids! Or send your senior videos of fun family times highlighting their grandchildren if visits in person are not possible.
Intergenerational activities can give you and your loved ones so much. Whether it takes you outdoors into nature or brings warmth and laughter into your home, the memories you will create and the lasting difference you can make in a child’s life are monumental. Perhaps you can think of other ways to connect with your family or friends. Look for opportunities. Enjoy the energy and life of younger people and create the environment to allow this to stimulate your mind and warm your heart. Make the most of your retirement during these beautiful summertime months and create memories together with loved ones!