I lost my uncle two weeks ago. He was 81 and suffered Dementia. Although it's a pretty sad situation, I have thought even deeply about the connection and relationships between toddlers and elders.
My daughter Jisele and my cousin Maddie have always had a great relationship with my Uncle. Although he didn't quite know specifics about them, what I saw was joy. It was beautiful (and funny). They understood that he had limitations and equally he understood that they were children. While, he may not have recognized them as his nieces, he understood that he was the adult in the situation and he had no problems with reminding them. My uncle and the girls had a bond, they knew it and so did he. I immediately, became reminiscent of my oldest daughter and my great grandfather.
My great grandfather and my oldest daughter were really close. He didn't suffer any memory loss and always remembered who she was. She recognized he was limited in his abilities, but she always felt he was the "go to" person if there was something that wasn't going her way.
I recall these accounts because I think about the importance of joy, laughter and love that toddlers "kids" bring into the lives of elders. I noticed with my late uncle, that Jisele and Maddie brought light into his eyes. He immediately would light up and it was wonderful to watch the happiness spread across his face.
As parents, it's important that we get our children immersed in the life of our elders. Not only does this bring joy and light into their lives but it also gives your child a new perspective on adults and aging. I believe it gives them purpose to keep going and it adds value to their quality of life. There is a connection that children are able to make with elders that is unmatched.
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