Young children are often a joy to grandparents and older relatives. The patter of little feet and squeals of joy can bring warm smiles to faces covered in wrinkles and age spots. Especially if the little ones live far away, the visit is usually highly anticipated by older grandparents or relatives.
But visiting little ones can also create special challenges for family caregivers and those they care for when the quiet solitude of home is shattered by shrill voices and quickly moving little bodies that bounce around the room like a pinball. The sudden introduction of running, shouting, laughing or quarrelsome young children into a normally sedate environment can add a great deal of stress for every resident of the home. Even pets can become unpredictable when the invasion occurs.
Hearing deficits, mobility challenges, or vision loss can add a great deal of frustration to a visit that should be sweet and loving. Children’s high-pitched voices are much more difficult to understand for someone who experiences difficulty hearing, and reduced vision can create fall risks not normally present. If you care for someone who has problems walking or is prone to falls, running children and their toys create dangerous hazards for your loved one. Add to this a home that is not child-proofed and you have an environment that can invite broken knick-knacks, broken hips, and broken hearts.
But when visits with children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren are well planned, they can connect generations and strengthen family ties. Grandparents get to experience their living legacies and the joy of their youth. Grandkids get to learn of their family’s history and heritage. A sense of family continuity can be fostered from an early age when visits are well orchestrated.
Here are some tips for managing a multi-generational visit that will have everyone feeling wonderful at the end of the visit! Since these are targeted toward the parents of the little ones coming to visit, feel free to share these suggestions prior to arrival, so everyone is on the same page.
Chris and I hope you’ll join us this week at Heart of the Caregiver and share your heart about managing family visits successfully.