Reach Out to an Older Relative

Originally Published on The Upside by Twill

Go Deeper When Talking to Older Relatives

Many of us only speak with the older members of our family during the holidays or other big family gatherings. But leaving those conversations with grandparents and great-aunts and -uncles (or any other elderly aunts, uncles, or family friends) to just once or twice a year may be robbing you—and them—of a vital connection.

By making a point to speak with your elders, even in passing conversation, you might discover details about your family you previously overlooked, hear words of wisdom you didn’t know you needed, or (finally) get that chocolate chip cookie recipe Grandma’s kept under wraps for years.

If you haven’t reached out to older relatives in a while, you can:

  • Call your grandparents, who have already celebrated their gold or diamond wedding anniversary, to get their sage advice on how to handle a spat with your partner. They know a thing or two about lasting love ♾️
  • Ask your older relatives for tips on how to get the family favorite dishes to turn out perfectly every time 🥘
  • Organize an informal family reunion via Zoom or FaceTime and ask your older relatives about the family history and their favorite stories about their younger days. And this time, really listen 🌳

The Science: When catching up, don’t just ask your older relative how they’re doing—ask about their experiences, ask for advice, ask them what they would have done differently back in the day. Research suggests that relationship expectations change as we age, and in an effort to better connect with the older individuals in our lives and reduce their loneliness, we should listen intently to what they have to say, take an interest in their life experiences, and allow them to contribute, whether that’s through giving advice, sharing traditions, or serving as a mentor.


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