Forget about gray-haired seniors baking cookies, knitting hats, or sitting in recliners watching The Price is Right. Today’s grandparents are more energetic, physically active, technologically advanced, and younger.
In fact, according to AARP’s 2018 Grandparents Today National Survey, the average age that older adults welcome their first grandchild is 50 years old with the youngest grandparents about 38 years old.
In addition, many U.S. grandparents and their families have moved from weekend visits to more permanent arrangements because “an estimated 3 million grandparents are now raising their grandchildren,” says AARP.
“I have seven grandchildren ranging from 8 to 11 years old,” said 64-year-old Richard Dodd from Baltimore. “Four of them and their mother had to move in with me after they lost their father January.”
Dodd was among the 75 grandparents who attended the Judy Center Early Learning Hub at Moravia Park Elementary School’s National Grandparents Day luncheon. Designated as a national holiday by President Jimmy Carter in 1978, Grandparents Day falls on the first Sunday after Labor Day. To commemorate the event, the Judy Center at Moravia Park established a partnership with the Baltimore City Health Department and AARP.
“This Grandparents Day, we are here to honor the important work that the Judy Centers do with children and families,” said AARP’s Volunteer State President Jim Campbell. “One of our focuses at AARP is intergenerational support, and the Judy Centers play a vital role in supporting grandparents as guardians, caregivers, and mentors to children in the community.”
Maryland’s 54 Judy Centers use a two-generational approach with the goal of creating opportunities for and addressing the needs of children, parents, and families. With four in 10 grandparents still actively in the U.S. workforce, says AARP, Judy Centers also offer resources to grandparents.
“We recognize the strength it takes to become parents for a second time, especially when the biological parent is unable to maintain their role as the lead parent,” said the Baltimore City Health Department’s Division of Aging and Care Services Assistant Commissioner Elouise Mayne. “None the less, there is a strong need to be cognizant of what it takes to raise a child, while caring for their own personal needs.”
In its first year, the National Grandparents Day event was an opportunity to provide grandparents with a variety of resources and critical information about issues affecting older adults such as the upcoming Census, senior fraud, health care, and child care.
“Plans are underway to host the Grandparents Day Luncheon annually because it’s a great way to showcase the school and Judy Center,” said the Judy Center at Moravia Park Coordinator Michelle Matthews. “Our goal is to highlight the role that each family member plays in preparing young children for success in school, while providing resources for the entire family.”
With a membership of nearly 38 million, AARP‘s goal is to disrupt preconceived notions about aging, strengthen communities, and fight for the issues that matter most to people 50-plus and their families. In Maryland, the nonprofit organization offers a variety of activities and events, and provides opportunities for older adults to connect annually.
The Baltimore City Health Department’s Division of Aging and Care Services coordinates services for older adults, adults with disabilities, and their families to maximize safety, health, and independence. In addition, the Division hosts a variety of events and activities annually for the city’s grandparents, including the Grandparents As Parents Pamper Me Day and the Grandparents As Parents Annual Conference.