Friday 23 December 2011

Being a three generational family at Christmas

Over Christmas, many "conventional" families morph into three generational families. For some that means that healthy Grandma cooks the dinner with adult children to help with the veg and the little ones play or perhaps that is just wishful thinking.

Many families will find out that Granny isn't quite as well or that her memory isn't as good as before.

So how to survive a three generational get-together.

  • Don't presume that the older generation can or will help but the children need training so they can help.
  • Think in advance whether an older person can manage the stairs, where they will sleep, whether they will need a commode (can be hired from the Red Cross).
  • Have the phone numbers of the GP walk in centre and work out where the 24hour emergency pharmacy is and how to get there. This might sound silly but we've certainly had to talk to the out of hours service and visit the emergency pharmacy over Christmas and the New Year.
  • Getting to church takes longer. A two year old can be carried if you are late, Granny can't.
  • Work out access problems in advance.
  • Think about church and sensory problems. Will a large print Bible/hymn book be needed? Is there an induction loop? If not, where will be the best place to sit-it might not be at the back with the babies. Will the family need to sit in two halves?
  • Older people love watching the present unwrapping-make sure it is done when they are there.
  • Find some occupations suitable for everyone. This isn't always easy but board games and old photographs are a possibility.
  • Make sure that the children have instructions about how to talk to the hard of hearing.
  • It isn't unkind to take the children off for a walk and let older people rest.
  • Confusion will be worse out of context but undiagnosed confusion needs sorting out.
  • There may be sorting out to do after Christmas-that confusion or weight loss need investigating. Someone may need to encourage/ensure that an appointment is made, provide transport and be an extra informant.
  • Finally, it is very easy to feel sorry for yourself-I know, been there. It isn't worth it. God's grace is sufficient. Look up and remember what we are celebrating


  1. Thanks for this post, it's given me some useful hints (not just for Christmas). My Grandma has just moved this week into a flat close to us, so there's lots to get used to! :)

  2. What a gift a three generation gathering is! It provides such beautiful opportunities to serve one another and to honor the aged. You've offered wonderful advice when the gatherings bring some challenges. Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  3. Sarah-glad this has given you some ideas. Hope your Grandma settles quickly.

  4. Trisha, good to hear from you. Yes, you are so right that a three generational gathering is a gift. Thank you for this reminder.