Happy Grandparents Day! On this day, we celebrate the important role that grandparents play in our lives—teaching us, loving us, making our families stronger. In this special episode of Senior Living LIVE!, Dr. Randee Bloom is with us to talk about the importance of the holiday and share some ideas for ways to celebrate this special day with all of the wonderful grandparents in our lives!


Video Transcript

- Hello everyone and welcome into Senior Living Live. My name is Melissa. I hope you are having a fantastic day today. We are so glad you could join us by video or by podcast. Thank you for listening. Now, we have a wonderful holiday coming up that many people might not know a lot about, Grandparents Day. I've got Randee Bloom with me here. She is my special guest. She is a wealth of knowledge with a long career in healthcare and Randee, you've got some interesting tidbits about why we should set aside time, September 12th, to celebrate our grandparents. How are you today?

- Very well, thank you Melissa. I appreciate it and honor to be here.

- Thank you so much for being here. Now first, tell us a little bit about yourself.

- Thank you, well, I'm a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother of three and a very happy grandmother of three grandsons. Professionally I'm a nurse, a hospital administrator and a healthcare consultant. I earned a PhD in nonprofit leadership and that is now directing my career as I call it in retirement within missions that I'm passionate about. Generally they're in healthcare or wellness fields and especially promoting volunteer service. I'm a national volunteer ambassador for AARP for example, where I do focus on volunteer service and engagement projects.

- Yeah, this is a woman who knows her stuff. So when we see Randee on this webcast and maybe a future a webcast, we hope you're gonna be hearing from somebody who has a lot of knowledge about our topics that we are undertaking. So today it is all about Grandparents Day and you know Randee, I think that the history of Grandparents Day is so unique. It's a holiday that flies under the radar. Why do people maybe not pay so much attention to this particular holiday as opposed to others?

- Well, the history is interesting for sure. It was started by people. The initiative dates back to 1969 when they say a nine-year-old boy wrote to then President Nixon and he asked for a day to dedicate, to celebrate, to honor grandparents. Many years later, several others joined the advocacy, a lot of adults, of course, and in 1978, the then President Carter signed the proclamation. So we how have National Grandparents Day and it's celebrated every Sunday after Labor Day. I wanna note that the proclamation included three distinct purposes and that probably should help everyone focus on why we have the holiday, why it was initiated and maybe some cute ways to honor this proclamation. One is to honor grandparents. To find ways to simply acknowledge and honor grandparents. Another is to give grandparents, myself, the opportunity to show love to their children's children. And a third is to help the children, so you can see the generational flow here, to become aware of the strength, the importance, the guidance that older people can offer them in their lives.

- So, as we mentioned, the history is fantastic and we have Valentine's Day, we have Halloween, people are already putting up Halloween decorations. We recently had a National Senior Citizens Day and that was another holiday that seems to also fly under the radar. Why is it Randee that this one doesn't get a lot of attention?

- Well, I would say probably because it's not promoted in some of the traditional ways of holidays, which are do this, buy that, give that. It's not intended, first of all, for just living grandparents to celebrate. It's for all the people that are in our memories that are either grandparents or people that were connected to us that might have been our past mentors, supporters, people who've guided us in our lives. As a granddaughter, I can share that I've benefited greatly from having loving and attentive grandparents and they certainly were worthy of this honor. Now, as a grandmother, I wanna recognize the importance of the shining light of my grandchildren's lives, the gift that they certainly give to my life. As a child, I would like to suggest that there's a opportunity to show the firm link on the family tree that holds the different branches, of course, symbolically for the child. The strength and the value of their individual family tree. This bond that they uniquely hold in their lives. I do think it's kind of interesting to suggest we look at one of the chief advocates, Marie or Marian McQuade. She envisioned a celebration that wasn't just for grandparents, but for this connection with grandparents. It's most evident, I think in one clever way. When we think of some of those holidays you mentioned such as Mother's Day and Father's Day, we think of it with an apostrophe S 'cause that's possessive. That means the mother, the father, my mother, et cetera. Well, Grandparents Day is plural, no apostrophe and I think that helps us remember it's for all people. We don't see the link to a specific action, a specific gift, but rather ideas to celebrate together.

- Yeah and that brings us to our tips section which we always enjoy so much. So get your pen and paper out everybody and take down these notes. Now, we thought you wrote a terrific article for AARP about this subject and you gave some really good tips how to celebrate that holiday. We can lead people and direct them, coming up in just a little bit to that particular link, but can you give our viewers a few ideas to what they could do to help make September 12th memorable for their loved ones?

- Yes, thank you. The first, I think and most important is simply to think of it as a family day. Try to organize some gathering. It can be, of course, in-person or now because of the challenges we have for our own health, maybe virtual, but ways to gather together. That's the core tenant of the holiday's design, finding ways to be together, including multi-generational family members. I also want to suggest planting a tree, but not the kind that needs water. Think of your family tree. Think of how we could creatively work with all members, multi-generational, encourage the children, drawing the family tree and then filling it in. Not all in one day, but working to fill it in. Pictures, treasured names, nicknames we have for our parents and grandparents, maybe favorite memories. So I think that's a simple project that many people can undertake. Another a little more in depth might begin to document family history. There are shared stories that we either talk about frequently laugh about, but don't always collect and really try to preserve, particularly if we have the members who were present or who reflected funny expressions and funny cherished ways, that individual history. Ask them to participate in a collection of these messages, hopefully even video so you get to see the expressions, you get to see the individual how touched they are by recalling these family memories. I wanna even think about recording them and that brings me to mention something called heirloom video books. This is one tool that takes just a few minutes from your computer or your smartphone and you can instantly send them to this company which produces a physical book and is sent to the family member recipient in a distinguished way to hold and treasure and view and listen to for generations. Let me please share with the viewers that this idea actually began last year during the challenges we all were going through initially with COVID. My adult children were increasingly worried about my mother, their then 92 year old grandmother. Very dear to them, very involved in their lives, but her only means of communication while living in her secure yet lonely and increasingly lonely senior apartment was by telephone. She's simply not tech savvy, so they couldn't visit her, COVID reasons. They couldn't then send her videos of these beautiful grandchildren growing. So they were desperate to do that. So they researched a little and they literally created this company and they are now able to share these videos through the app and the website with no technology needed by the recipient. My mother literally opens the box from the mailbox, opens the video book and she is watching the video of these beautiful great grandsons. So I share that with you as a suggestion. I'm very proud of it. I focus on how they've developed it and their efforts as my own children, but I support and invest in their work, finding the rewards first in my mother and then in so many others.

- Yeah and as we could see the video, it is such a cool product and I mean, you're so hitting the nail on the head. We had just millions of seniors who just the flick of a switch, it almost felt like with COVID, just sort of felt they didn't have any reach to the outside world. They felt very shut in and what a great way for your children to help their grandmother and as we sit here talking about Grandparents Day, walking the walk, right? I love that whole full circle so much, being able to offer something to their own grandmother and at the same time, opening up a new world to seniors, not just in the country here, but around the world. So thank you so much for sharing that, yeah.

- Thank you, a couple other maybe simple ideas on how to celebrate the holiday. One is simply to consider passing on the love of your hobby. My grandchildren, I know, know about my love for sewing and knitting because every night they snuggle under their blankets. But do they know of other hobbies or skills that I might have? Maybe some of you are expert at small hobbies or skills you think about, but you'd love to make sure your grandchild knows. Are you a little magician? Are you expert at shuffling cards? Are you a great baseball catcher? Maybe you're even a pianist. How can you share that and preserve that as your own talent, but also maybe cultivate that in your grandchild? Again, you can tape it. You can send it in a video book, but you will become if the child watches and has their own small interest in this, you could become their teacher, their mentor, you are developing a new bond with the child may be for a long time to come as their, of course, chief cheerleader. Let me also suggest creating a time capsule. A lot of families can work together and collect items, trinkets, items that have great family memories, write down stories, include this year after year, building, of course, what you would call a capsule, which could be simply a shoebox, decide where it's going to be buried and then of course, everyone will decide when to open or reopen it and of course, share the contents and of course, the messages that they have. And one other idea is celebrating maybe from a distance, certainly in-person you could do this, is to help cultivate some skills in the grandchildren. Take some time, think about some ways that you can help them develop that's outside of their own experiences. One we might think about is to cultivate a bit of their own reporter or conversational skill. You might ask them to interview you. Think about questions they might ask, I think they could be very simple ones. What sport were you the best in in school and so forth and then encourage them to be even more creative and I think all the generations will enjoy that. You might end up with questions like, "Grandpa, how many speeding tickets did you get?" Or "Grandma, how many boyfriends "did you date before grandpa." Things that will certainly cement similar relationships that they have in their lives, experiences they've had or may have and they can see that they're breaking down these generational divides and you're actually bonding and again, consider recording this for all.

- Yeah, so it's a keepsake for later. I love that idea so much, that's awesome. Now, when we have these shows, we try to involve everybody and so there may be somebody out there that says, "Well, my grandparents have passed. "I don't have grandparents." Or somebody who, maybe a senior watching this that says, "I don't have any grandchildren." So I do think that this is an excellent time to volunteer. So how can someone make this day special for seniors in their hometown or city?

- Yes and that is a question and an idea that is so strong and so dear to me because I want people to realize that we know that volunteer service is of benefit of contribution to the welfare of others. The recipient of our service, of course, we assume benefits, but please consider that you benefit, the doer is benefiting by doing the volunteer service. There is some science behind this. There is a lot of knowledge known to volunteers being stronger, healthier, happier because they actually are doing these efforts. So think about that right there for yourself and then about contributing to the children and grandchildren's lives by emphasizing volunteer service. When you begin to explore opportunities, of course, you can look very local. Local agencies offer some opportunities. You have to think of your physical limitations, of course, shared interests, maybe you're gonna do it virtually, maybe you'll be able to do it safely in person, but look for those opportunities in very local communities. They may be with people who are grandparents and you can help them share the holiday, basically transcending yourself and your family into others' lives. I also suggest you look at AARP's Create the Good website, Create the Good, it's open to everyone, free to everyone. It's supported by AARP because their mission strongly supports volunteer service. So you don't have to be a member, you certainly don't have to be 50, we want people to go to the site and find opportunities. A lot of them are virtual. A lot of them are local and they're identified by zip code and they're identified by topic if you wanna help animals, you wanna help nature and so forth and then there's a large section that you could explore for do it yourself. So you might want to create your own in your neighborhood, on your block, in your school, in your work, with the grandchildren and there's a lot of tips on what materials, what ideas you might get from do it yourself projects.

- Excellent, yeah, so many great tidbits so far in this interview and we go back to something we mentioned earlier in the interview and that is your blog about this topic and perhaps many others with AARP. How can somebody check out that specific blog on this topic?

- Right, so I encourage you to visit sendheirloom.com because there is a blog section and we do look for experts to write about topics for seniors. This one, of course, to celebrate the holiday, but several others about information, but they're very approachable. They're very usable tips and suggestions. How to bond with the children, how to create a safer environment for yourself, many things of that nature.

- Excellent and one more time, the Create the Good, what is that website?

- Yes, createthegood, one word, .org and that is sponsored by AARP. Don't have to, again, be a member or any association, just wants you to find volunteer opportunities that match with your interests and your abilities and keep fundamentally in mind that it's good for the recipient and it's very good for you.

- Awesome, this is all about Grandparents Day and this year it falls on September 12th. Randee, we thank you so much for sharing all of your knowledge with us here today.

- It has been an honor. I sincerely am glad that we can promote both the holiday, many of these actions year round and certainly understand the relationships that we treasure, whether they're natural grandparents on that family tree or they're mentors in our lives, thanks.

- Yeah, I love it so much, thank you. Now, if you, as the listener or if you're watching via video have enjoyed this video with Randee, I encourage you to head over to some of the places that we talked about in this interview, sendheirloom.com, you can go there. Please also feel free to check out createthegood.org and of course, last but not least, we encourage you to head on over to www.seniorlivinglive.com. There we've got all of our content that is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, all about senior living. We appreciate you watching Senior Living Live. Have a great day everybody

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