As America ages, its young people must take on the responsibility and privilege of caring for senior citizens. Unfortunately, some seniors do not have loved ones to chat with or ones who can provide assistance. The Adopt-A-Grandparent program was created to bring benefits to our senior population while introducing our younger generations to learn about our elderly and share their stories.
What is the Adopt-A-Grandparent program?
The Exchange Club of Quincy, Illinois, created this idea as a way to connect fifth through eighth graders with seniors in their area. Children gain respect for their elders while spending time with their adoptive grandparents as the seniors enjoy telling stories and passing on skills. Some senior living community residents enjoy a snack and conversation with their adoptive grandkids. Others do activities from puzzles and card games to going on walks. Seniors can help the students with their homework and teach them new hobbies if these ideas suit both parties.
Another key component of the program is helping younger people understand aging. Students learn about the mental and physical components of growing older by talking with and being around the seniors. Organizations who pair seniors with children should talk with the kids before they meet their grandparents to explain what to expect. This means sharing information on how to help a senior with mobility issues such as using a walker or wheelchair, noting the importance of patience while moving from one place to the next. Some of the residents may have health troubles and have to be in bed during the whole visit, while others are more fit and can be more active.
How can you start an Adopt-A-Grandparent program?
Does this sound like something a local senior living community and middle school near you could benefit from? Contact the National Exchange Club. They’ll help you officially create a service club as well as provide certificates to present to the participants. Then, it’s up to you to find a senior community and class to partake in the program. Church groups are also a great option for finding students and seniors to get involved.
The first meeting between the generations should be informal. This is a chance to get to know one another and learn some quick facts. Offer a fun snack like ice cream or fruit and host the gathering at the senior living community so all the residents can be involved.
Discuss with the staff if individuals in memory care should partake. The program can be beneficial for these seniors, especially if they don’t get a lot of visitors, but it does take special care to work with young kids. The kids must understand that the senior may not always recognize them and may be repetitive when speaking.
Adopt-A-Grandparent program leaders can plan activities for the whole group for some visits and offer free time during others. The National Exchange Club recommends running the program for a full school year to provide students and seniors with the best learning experience.