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One of the benefits of senior living is the extra time you have to spend with your children and grandchildren. And according to research, spending quality time with your family in your retirement communities can have a positive effect on the entire family. In fact, recent studies have shown that grandparents who spent time with grandchildren one day per week performed better on cognitive tests than those who didn’t. It’s true - grandchildren can make you smarter!

Here are 10 ways to make family visits to your senior living communities more fun and memorable:

Game On

Pull out those old favorites such as Cribbage or Sorry, and get everyone in the game! Teach the grandchildren your favorite card or board game, or ask them to teach you how to play a trendy new one like Exploding Kittens or Spontuneous. Video platforms such as Kinoo allows grandparents and family members to play games together and interact using iPads and iPhones. You will both feel more competent and capable, and you will create new memories with the younger generation.

Show and Tell the Story

Show your family one of the beloved keepsakes you brought with you to your Holiday Retirement home, and share the history behind it. Your children and grandchildren will learn more about you, and you are able to pass on stories to younger generations. Offer your own perspective of a historical moment, or even a funny family story that has been told by other generations. It will help your children and grandchildren have a greater understanding of past events.

senior hands helping young hands play a piano

Play It Again, Sam


Make your visits musical by teaching grandchildren how to play a beloved instrument. Don’t make it a boring lesson of scales – have your grandchild choose a fun (but simple) song and learn how to play it on your piano, clarinet or accordion. It may spur them on to learn more about the instrument, or another of their choosing.

Current Events

Make sure memories are preserved as you create them in your retirement home. Ask your grandchildren (and your children) to help you build a multi-generational scrapbook. Family members can include stories and pictures of things that they see as important, whether it is a picture of new friends in your senior apartments, or a recent trip to a fun park. Scrapbooking provides family members an opportunity to share what’s important about their lives, and put that in the context of family history. The narratives and stories that emerge help promote dialogue and contribute to a shared sense of history. The scrapbooks themselves are works of art and can become precious mementos.

Grandfather and Grandson painting

Tutor Style

Homework can seem like fun when you are the teacher! Young students can benefit from positive reinforcement and guidance from a loved one. And you can sharpen your skills in the core subjects! Grandchildren are able to get their homework done while spending one-on-one time with their grandparents in your retirement homes. With the recent addition of online classrooms to the school curriculum, you can help students log into learning platforms or apps, or walk them through a difficult math assignment. Every once in a while, assume the role of student. Children love to teach someone what they know.

A Day at the Museum 

An otherwise mundane field trip can become a fun day out with the grandparents. Plan a trip to see a new exhibit, or create an entire scavenger hunt at a gallery. Hand out “bingo cards” filled with sights and sounds in the location and have grandchildren check them off. Spend the day learning something together. Make sure you get feedback from your “tour group.” You’ll be surprised to hear the responses of the youngest and oldest members of the family.

Senior man and young boy playing in the grass)

Class Action

Have you wanted to learn a new sport, or create a pottery masterpiece? Make it matter by asking a child or grandchild to attend the class, too. You will both look forward to learning a new skill, and bonding as a team. Grandparents can attend summer classes at some college campuses near senior living communities across the nation. Called Grandparents University (GPU), classes are attended by grandparents and grandchildren (no parents allowed!) and are taught by professors and other experts in their particular fields

Proclaim Your Day

Take on a special day and make it an annual celebration with the grandchildren along with other members of your retirement communities. National Grandparents Day is recognized on the first Sunday after Labor Day, to honor the role grandparents play in our lives. Use this day (or another day in the year) as your special day to begin a new tradition with your family. It doesn’t need to be an elaborate event, but simply a way to observe the connection you have with the younger members of your family.

senior hands helping small young hands plant a strawberry plant in a small pot

Give to Others

Do you have a cause that is close to your heart? Round up the whole family and volunteer together. Whether it’s knitting for charities, serving a meal at a homeless shelter or cleaning up a community garden, your family will get to see you in action and have a feeling of purpose. You can share your passions and purpose with your family and instill the idea of volunteerism in your grandchildren.

Candid Camera Time

If in-person visits to senior housing just aren’t possible, you can still make deep multi-generational connections by scheduling regular video chats. A recent study found that 71% of grandparents with grandchildren aged 5 years and younger increased their use of technology to stay connected. Nearly 40% made daily log-ins to remain close to their families. The visits don’t have to be meaningful or last hours - grandchildren feel the good vibes even if the call is only a few minutes long.

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