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Generational connecting takes planning

Dec. 24, 2012 at 1:56 AM

ITHACA, N.Y., Dec. 24 (UPI) -- Many children have limited contact with their grandparents or older relatives, but a U.S. family sciences expert says the holidays create a good opportunity.

"Most of us yearn to connect with loved ones from older generations," Rhoda Meador, director of the Ithaca College Gerontology Institute, said in a statement. "But unfortunately, the chaos and stress of the season take over, and when the holidays are over, we're left with empty bank accounts, high-calorie hangovers and fatigue."

To help the generations connect, Meador suggested:

-- Intergenerational connections won't "just happen" on their own, so set aside specific times to be with friends and family members.

-- Older people may have visual or hearing impairments, mobility challenges, chronic health conditions and memory loss that might limit participation so help integrate them into the activities.

-- Tone down or eliminate background music to make it easier for people with hearing aids to understand conversations.

-- Arrange furniture so the space is accessible for those with a cane or walker.

-- Explaining to children health challenges. For example, "Grandpa will be really excited to hear about your baseball team, but he can't hear unless you sit close to him."

-- Plan "generationally neutral" activities such as card games, card games and food preparation.

-- Use photos, family heirlooms, music and food to stimulate intergenerational storytelling.

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