An Apple a Day: Self-Care Suggestions for Grandparents

By Christine A. Fruhauf, Ph.D. Associate Professor and Coordinator, Gerontology Interdisciplinary Minor, Department of Human Development and Family Studies
Colorado State University

An Apple a Day: Self-Care Suggestions for Grandparents

An apple a day, keeps the doctor away is a common saying related to maintaining good health. This mantra has many meanings. Yet, possibly the most important is its reference to self-care. It is well known that self-care addresses health maintenance and is described as the ability of individuals to improve or restore their overall health and well-being. Individuals may even prevent future health related challenges through a positive lifestyle with good self-care practices.

Grandparents who are full-time parents to their grandchildren often find their lives feel upside down. Caring for grandchildren may negatively impact their overall health and well-being. Many grandparents also state that they have no time to engage in self-care practices or time for themselves as they are concerned with their grandchildren's needs (and not their own). When grandparents do not take good care of themselves, they may experience a decrease in physical health and depression.

As a result, grandparents should consider making self-care practices a priority in their daily lives. Positive self-care practices are not only important to grandparents physical and mental health, but healthy grandparents make healthy grandchildren. In an effort to promote positive self-care, try to keep in mind a few of these suggestions:

  • Eat healthy foods including fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains.
  • Decrease sugar, salt, and alcohol.
  • Drink at least six glasses of eight fluid ounces of water each day.
  • Get plenty of exercise.* You should aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise, five times a week. In addition to walking, running, biking, swimming, and weight lifting other ways you can engage in exercise by completing heavy housework, gardening, playing with your grandchildren or pushing your grandchild in a swing.
  • See your physician at least once a year for a physical and follow his/her advice.
  • Find healthy ways to relieve stress. For example, read a book, write in a journal, listen to music, engage in deep breathing and meditation, or find guidance through religious and spiritual practices. Self-pamper yourself (if you can) by getting a massage, manicure, or by taking a bath.
  • Be aware of negative self-talk (e.g., "I'm not good enough to raise my grandchild." or "I'm too old to raise my grandchild.") that can be harmful to your wellness. Create a new message to yourself (e.g., "I love my grandchild and I can do this").
  • Surround yourself with friends and family that make you happy. A good social support network is essential to maintaining good health.
  • Seek professional help when needed. Counselors, kinship navigators, and service providers/case managers can assist you with making certain your positive self-care practices are met.

Just like eating one apple a day, start small and try to incorporate one if not more of the previous suggestions into your daily lifestyle. Taking on good self-care practices can have positive health benefits to grandparents' health.

* Please note: Do not begin an exercise routine without first checking with your doctor.