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How to Be a 'Young' Grandparent

By: Hsin-Yi Cohen BSc, MA, MSt - Updated: 18 Jun 2010 | comments*Discuss
Young Grandparent Youthful Grandchildren

So the time has finally come in your life when you are a “grandparent” and while you are delighted to welcome the arrival of your grandchildren, you’re suddenly faced with an uncomfortable thought: does this mean that you will just sink slowly into the stereotype of the “old fuddy-duddy”? Of course not. Being a grandparent does not automatically have to mean being “old” – but what can you to do to ensure that you will be able to keep up with the “young’uns”?

Why grandparents need to stay ‘young’

Contrary to the traditional image of a white-haired old woman knitting in a rocking chair or a bespectacled old man with a walking stick, hunched over a yellowing photo album, reminiscing about the past…grandchildren actually really appreciate grandparents who retain their youthful outlook on life. Staying ‘young’ – or at least, ‘young at heart’ – could be the key to having a fulfilling relationship with your grandchildren.

On a more practical level, grandchildren can be great fun but also a lot of work and keeping up your health and energy levels could be essential in allowing you to enjoy time with them. While the thought of having enough energy to keep up with your grandchildren can be daunting, especially if you are on the other side of 60, following a few simple anti-ageing habits - such as regular exercise, good nutrition and continued mental stimulation – should make things much easier.

Anti-ageing tips for grandparents

So how do you make sure you remain a ‘young’ grandparent? Here are a few handy tips for staying young at heart, never mind that you might be carrying a pensioner’s card!

Tip 1 – Stay informed

Knowing what is going on is the first step to keeping up - so keep an active interest in what is going on in the world around you, whether it is in the news, movies, music, art, books, TV, fashion, travel or the internet. Listen to the radio, keep an eye on TV programmes and the news and read newspapers and magazines. Don’t be afraid to explore the internet and all it has to offer. By keeping in touch with all the trends and truths in the world, you will not only understand your grandchildren’s world better but also earn their respect too.

Tip 2 – Embrace technology

While you may not be expected to want or need all the latest gadgets that your grandchildren are flaunting, it is essential to at least know what they are and what they are used for, if you want to preserve your youthful attitude and keep in touch with the younger generation. Don’t be afraid to ask about the latest gadgets – most youths are more excited at sharing their knowledge than sneering at your ignorance – an occasional browse through retail stores can also help you keep up to date with technology trends.

Tip 3 – Keep up the exercise

It might be traditionally thought that your senior years are the time to slow down but this doesn’t mean you should abandon exercise altogether. In fact, it is even more important to remain fit and active as you pass middle-age, particularly if you want the energy to keep up with younger grandchildren. Regular exercise will also mean that you will maintain better flexibility too and strength in your muscles, as well as stamina and cardiac fitness, while warding off stiffness and reducing the danger of injury from falls.

Tip 4 – Stay in fashion

Grandchildren may not want an embarrassing grandmother who walks around like mutton dressed as lamb but they don’t want an ageing fashion disaster either. By maintaining an interest in current fashions and how that translates for your own figure and colouring, you will be preserving your vanity – which is part of a youthful attitude. When you stop caring how you look is when you start looking and feeling old.

Tip 5 – Travel as much as you can

Now is the time to do those things you put off in your youth when you were saving money for your retirement. By continuing to visit new places and have new experiences, you will not only be a focal point of interest and respect for the younger generation but you will also empathise better with them as they continually discover new experiences too while they mature and grow up.

Lastly, don’t lose your sense of wonder and desire to learn new things in life – just this attitude alone will help you stay youthful and be a ‘young’ grandparent that your grandchildren will respect and admire.

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