Even if you’re not your aging parent’s primary caretaker, it’s important for both of you to maintain a strong emotional connection. Regularly doing simple things with your parent or parents can encourage them to open up to you about their questions, concerns, and worries, and emotional bonds will naturally develop making your interactions enjoyable. Bonding with an elderly parent can seem daunting if you haven’t been close in the past, but it’s actually fairly simple to find ways for you two to connect. Brightwater Senior Living has compiled a list of cross-generational bonding activities to help you and your older parent get closer.
Finding a Shared Hobby
Even if it doesn’t seem like you and your parent share any hobbies or interests in common, try poking around to find something new that both of you can enjoy. Sign up for a painting or drawing class together. Try out a cross-generational yoga class. Or simply see what your parent likes doing and give their hobby a try. Sharing your parent’s interests is a great way to show you care and get the conversations rolling.
Going Through Photo Albums
It’s time to dust off those bulky photo albums in the closet. You may not have peeked at these old pictures in years, but going through snapshots of your childhood and your parent’s younger days can bring you two closer than you realize. You might laugh; you might cry; you might do a little of both. Set aside a good amount of time, fix some hot beverages, and get ready for a trip down memory lane.
Setting up a Regular Outing
If you live close to your parents, but don’t get to see them often, a good way to spend time together is to set up a weekly, biweekly, or monthly date for the two of you to spend the day outside of the house. Your chosen activity can be anything from seeing a movie together to going on a shopping trip to having lunch at a restaurant you both enjoy.
Cooking or baking something together is a great bonding activity for any age group, especially if it’s something you both enjoy. Make it a low-stress situation where it’s okay if the dish takes longer than expected or doesn’t turn out very well. You want to make it about the activity and not the finished product. Have fun making a mess and leave it for later (or someone else) to clean up.
Listening to Them
Sometimes the best thing you can do for your parent is just sitting and listening to them, whether they’re complaining, reminiscing, or just telling you about their daily life. Older adults are often talked over or have their thoughts ignored or dismissed. Let your parent know that you’re there for them and listen to what they have to say, even if it’s a story you’ve heard before.
We hope these suggestions gave you some ideas for ways to bond with your older parent. For more tips on connecting with older loved ones and information about aging, check out Brightwater’s blog.