Young man and old man

In the hustle and bustle of life, it's easy to let the connection we have with our parents, and other older family members, fall lower on our list of priorities. But the older generation has wisdom to share and may be able to give us insight into how to handle adversity in our lives.

What's more, nurturing family ties can give you a greater sense of stability. Consider a few simple strategies that can help you maintain a strong bond with your senior relatives.

Schedule Time for Visits
"I'll visit them next month," has become a common refrain for busy adults. Have you found yourself putting off visits with older family members, telling yourself that you'll have more time for them in the future? Chances are, your schedule will remain as busy as it is today.

They say what gets scheduled is what gets done. In other words, the only way to ensure that you'll have time with your parents or older relatives is to put it on the calendar. Consider whether it might be helpful to set a standing date for parental visits. If you do, make sure that you faithfully stick to that time.

Sign up for Activities
If your older relatives are in good health, it can be fun to plan activities that you can participate in together. Signing up for a class, tour, or event can give you all something to look forward to and focus on doing together.

Think about what kinds of activities your parents or older relatives enjoy, and see where there is common ground with your own interests. You might plan for a family outing weekly, monthly, or just occasionally. Whatever your schedule, group activities can be a great way to learn more about each other, and explore new interests and hobbies.

Take Time to Talk
In order to reap the wisdom of your elders, you need to find time to talk to them and learn about their experiences. Be sure that some of the time you spend with older family members is talking time. Going for regular walks together can be a great way to relax and connect. You may also want to enjoy a meal, spend some time in the garden, or visit a quiet cafe for tea or coffee.

Be sure to ask your parents or older relatives specific questions about things that are important to them, as well as to you. You may be curious to know how they balanced having a career with having children, or how they handled any significant stressful events in their lives. As you become closer, it will get easier to talk about a wider range of topics than the weather and sports teams--and it will be more satisfying for all family members as well.

HealthAhead Hint: Remember What's Important
When life gets busy, it's easy to let relationships slip through the cracks. Yet staying connected to your older family members can help you, and your whole family, to feel a greater sense of closeness and well-being. If you feel like you don't have time to make a proper connection with your older relatives, remind yourself of what's really important. Having a strong bond with parents and other elders can help you understand yourself better and bring greater meaning to your life--as well as to theirs.