Why Have a Grandparents Day? Its Importance, History, and Benefits

8 minute read

Mothers get a day. Fathers get a day. Most popular foods even have a national appreciation day. It makes sense that grandparents will get a day too, and many would agree it should be a bit more popular to observe the holiday than it currently is.

Most people believe that this day was created as a result of florists, card companies, and gift stores all trying to generate additional income.

While that is certainly true of many of the seemingly random “appreciation days” cluttering the latest calendars, it is not the case this time. The reality is that the origin of Grandparents Day is not commercial in any way.

The Roots of Grandparents Day

A West Virginia mother named Marian McQuade can be referenced as the ignition for Grandparents Day celebrations. Back in 1956, while she was working to organize a community celebration, McQuade realized that large numbers of nursing home residents were often forgotten by their families.

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Feeling empathy towards these people, McQuade decided that all grandparents deserved recognition. She wanted a day that acknowledged and honored these individuals and in 1973, West Virginia was the first state to have an official Grandparents Day.

McQuade made it her mission to spread this idea across the nation, and by 1978 the holiday was recognized in every state.

It may not be a federally recognized holiday, but neither is Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. The purpose is to honor grandparents and to promote family time.

Grandchildren are encouraged to spend time with their grandparents and show them love. Often grandparents live away from the family, so time can be limited. This holiday sets aside time for the relationship to be remembered and strengthened.

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Grandparents Day doesn’t register as a money maker for the card companies and gift stores, which is just fine. The day is more about appreciation and growing family bonds.

The celebration doesn’t even need to be elaborate. Grandparents are often overjoyed just to spend time with the grandkids. A meal together, playing some games, watching a movie, or low-key outdoor activities is all it may take.

Grandparents Need Love Too

Grandparents are often forgotten, as McQuade discovered when visiting nursing homes. It is understandable that people get busy, but it is important to remember where you came from.

Grandparents Day is a perfect opportunity to show the seniors in your life that you love and appreciate them. Of course, you can show this other days of the year too. In fact, the more often you do this, the better off their lives will be.

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Neglect and feeling isolated is a major contributor to depression among the elderly, especially those who live alone or in care facilities. A phone call, a card, or a handmade gift from the grandkids is the best way to show them you still care and even though you don’t see them every day, you still think about them.

Feeling Useful

There is nothing more depressing than feeling as if you have nothing to contribute to the world or your loved ones.

In nursing homes, active seniors should be kept busy with chores and tasks that allow them to contribute each day. They can distribute mail, fold laundry, or even help in the garden.

The elderly love sharing their knowledge and experiences, so have the kids reach out to them to get information when it comes to school projects. You’ll be surprised at what grandma and grandpa know, and they will be over the moon about helping you out.

Staying Physically Active

An active body is a healthy body. While it is true that as we get older our bodies become limited in what it can do, but this doesn’t mean we have to become sedentary.

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If you live nearby your grandparents, make sure the visits involve outdoor activities like walks in the park. If they live in a nursing facility, make sure they have programs available to keep them active like yoga, water aerobics, and other gentle exercises to keep them active and happy.

Mental Sharpness

If the mind fades so will everything else. Dementia is the biggest fear among the elderly so you need to do your part to keep the minds of your loved ones sharp.

Make sure they have brain games or reading to enjoy and doing a puzzle is always a fun family activity for kids, parents and grandparents.

Stay Connected

Belonging will always be the main motivator for elderly individuals. Whether they just live far away or in a nursing home, visits and interactions with family are what they value the most.

Phone calls and letters or emails can do the trick if distance is a barrier. Lonely individuals have shorter lives but there is plenty you can do to make sure the grandparents in your family never feel left out.

♦ Arrange visits to see them

♦ Plan outings that include them

♦ Have them over for dinner as often as you can

♦ Reach out by phone each week, Facetime and Skype can be helpful

♦ Include them in parties and special events

♦ Encourage them to join groups or a church

It is important to watch for signs of depression in the elderly members of your family, whether they live in their own home or a nursing facility. Depression late in life is common especially after the age of 65 and after losing a spouse.

Identifying depression early allows you to get your loved ones help, so they can continue to share your life with you.

The health of our elderly population is dependent on a sense of belonging and social interactions. Quality of life has been linked to extended lifespans and whereas isolated individuals experience severe bouts of depression and early death.

The Bottom Line

Ensuring the grandparents in your life have the greatest quality of life is easy and will ensure they stick around to see everything the grandkids achieve.

Depression in the elderly significantly shortens their lifespan, so it is important to keep your loved ones involved. This goes beyond Grandparents Day although this holiday is an occasion to remind them how much they mean.

Nothing is more important than family, so every day is Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Children’s Day and Grandparents Day.

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