The value of grandparents

Posted on 4th October 2016

They receive little media attention, and their role often remains under the radar. They can be kind and strict, wise and opinionated, busy and obliging. They may no longer be able to sprint like a ten-year-old or keep up with an athletic teen but what they lack in pace, they can make up in patience. They dispense advice, treats, pocket-money, stories and memories – and they will be there if you need them as often as they can.

They are the grandparents. Not a homogenous group, they bring to the role their own foibles, attitudes, strengths and resilience. They tend to love their grandchildren, and this relationship spanning the generations, can strengthen the bond with their own adult children.

With greater longevity and increased years in retirement, today’s grandparents have more opportunity than in the past to define and enjoy their role. Most grandparents see this as a blessing, helping to keep them young. ‘I love to see them come, and I love to hand them back’ is a comment often heard from a dazed couple left somewhat winded after a sticky-fingered onslaught on the family home.

But grandparents are not found wanting in giving their time, care and financial help if needed. Many have been helping out practically since the financial downturn, acting as unpaid childminders for parents unable to pay crèche fees, and contributing to mortgage payments in order to keep the younger family in their own home. Others offer a listening ear, a comforting presence.

To acknowledge this unique role, Specsavers recently launched the Grandparent of the Year Award in collaboration with Third Age. The nationwide search for Ireland’s most exceptional grandparent will recognise and celebrate the special role they play in the lives of their grandchildren. Specsavers and Third Age are fitting partners in this enterprise, as both are committed to promoting the continued engagement of older people in life. Sinead Clohessy is Chairperson of Specsavers: “At Specsavers, we encourage our customers to take a proactive approach to health, with regular sight and hearing tests, so that they can enjoy longer and more fulfilled lives. Untreated hearing loss can affect every aspect of life and lead to social isolation, so identifying the problem early with an expert can mean preserving the ability to communicate and spend precious time with friends and family well into later life”, she says.

Aine Brady is CEO of Third Age: “We are committed to promoting the value of older people in their communities as friends and neighbours, and in families as parents and grandparents.  Each of our national programmes has trained older people working as volunteers for their benefit of society.  We know, at first hand, the value of keeping people in the third age of life, still contributing, adding purpose and meaning to their lives and using their skills,” she says.

Nominations for the Grandparent of the Year Award can be submitted by grandchildren of any age in Specsavers’ 50 stores nationwide or you can nominate a grandparent online. The closing date for entries is October 31 and four regional finalists will be announced in November before the overall winner is revealed. The Grandparent of the Year will win a weekend away in Ireland, a Specsavers voucher and a Grandparent of the Year trophy. The grandchild who nominated the winner will receive an iPad Air.

Alice's AgeWell Joy

Alice's story serves as an inspiration, showcasing the power of a positive mindset and the support systems like AgeWell that enable older individuals to live fulfilling lives. Through the dedication of companions like Eileen, AgeWell continues to make a meaningful difference in the lives of older people, fostering connections and ensuring their well-being


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