The Power of Grandparenting to Your Retirement Community

Think for a moment about how many grandparents reside in your retirement home or retirement community. The grandparent population is a very large one, and a well-to-do one. Quite often, grandparents have more household wealth than the population as a whole.

The numbers across the country are very large -- well over 80 million grandparents. Soon, there will be 90 to 100 million grandparents.

Among people age 60 and older, 82% are grandparents. It may be hard to believe but the average age a person in the U.S. becomes a grandparent for the firsttime is under age 50. And heres another surprise: About a quarter of them are under the age of 45. Half of the Baby Boomer generation are grandparents.

As a group, grandparents spend substantial amounts of money on their grandchildren -- more than $20 billion a year. One out of four toys sold in America are bought by grandparents. A third of all pre-paid college funding plans are paid for by grandparents.

We work with retirement communities on ways to strengthen ties between grandchildren and grandparents that benefit the retirement living experience.

Most of us understand that this relationship is a very special one.

Grandparents are the family symbol of both past and future. They provide continuity with the past, linking memories of deceased family members and thepersonal events that distinguish the family's history.

The role of the grandparent is different than the role of parents. As parents, we spend a great deal of time shaping and disciplining our children. As grandparents, we respond with what is called unconditional love that's love with no strings attached.

My firm has been working with retirement and other facilities on programs that deepen relationships with grandparents. We have found that thegrandparent/grandchild relationship is a very special one! Most grandparents and grandchildren get along very well and have a close relationship.

If you're not a grandparent yourself, its difficult to fully comprehend the emotional power of the grandparent-grandchild relationship. Think back to how you felt about your relationship with your grandparents, if you were lucky enough to know them. Then multiply that feeling by 10 and youll have some idea of how deeply grandparents feel about their grandchildren. They'll do almost anything to help grandchildren be happy and succeed in life!

Recognizing them in their roles as grandparents is an extremely effective way to connect your facility with them. The overpowering emotional importance of grandchildren magnifies anything you do or say. It echoes in their minds and touches their hearts. There are few subjects you can address that have that kind of memorable impact.

Here are ideas to consider for your retirement community:

  • Create a photo album of grandparents and grandchildren to share with others. Keep the photo album in your reception area to share with visitors and prospects. Refer to grandchildren in your community newsletter.
  • Plan a group travel outing for grandparents and their grandchildren, when they are visiting.
  • Host a Grandparents Exchange Group. Hold periodic meetings where grandparents can get together and talk about issues that interest or concern them. You might invite a social worker, medical doctor, or other experts to give brief talks.

Conduct seminars on investing for grandchildren. We have found that this topic is successful in connecting with current resident and sending a message thatyour retirement home or retirement community cares.

Whatever you choose to do in saluting grandparenthood, it will be a winner!

On a personal note, in early 2010, I was named to the advisory board of GRAND magazine. This e-magazine can be a valuable source for more grandparent ideasfor your programs. We are greatly inspired by our own grandchildren. My wife and I have 14 grandchildren seven boys and seven girlsfrom age two to 17.

It youd like a free copy of my 10 Tips for Deepening Relationships with Grandparents,write me (or email me at [email protected]) at 50-PlusCommunications Consulting, 2911 Wamath Drive, Charlotte NC 28210.