When a family moves away or a spouse dies, elderly relatives may feel lonely and neglected. You can help cheer up your lonely grandmother by making and maintaining connections with her and offering reminders of her importance and value to the family. Staying in touch doesn't have to be an expensive or time-intensive proposition -- even simple gestures can go a long way to dispel Grandma's sense of loneliness. Flowers from your garden, a "happy birthday" phone message from your kids, or the latest family picture might go a long way to brighten her day.
If you live close enough to visit your grandmother, try to stop by on a fairly regular basis so she doesn't feel neglected. She might miss family members who live far away, but she likely can understand why they don't make frequent visits. It's harder to accept when nearby family members don't stop by. Drop by to chat, have a cup of tea, or play cards with her. Bring your children with you so she can build a relationship with them, something both she and they will cherish as they get older. Spend time doing an activity she enjoys, such as working in the garden or reading to her.
Maybe visits aren't an option for you. There are still numerous ways to stay in touch with your grandmother so she doesn't feel quite so lonely. If your schedule permits, set up a regular time to call and talk to her. Use the calls to let her tell you how things are going, to share your family's weekly activities with her, and to remind her you care. She may feel less lonely during the week knowing she has your weekly call to look forward to. And if she's computer-savvy, exchange emails or Skype with her so she can talk to you face-to-face.
Thinking of You
Although letter writing is far less common than it was before the advent of electronic communication, your grandmother probably remembers writing letters to her elderly relatives and would appreciate getting letters from you. Even if it's just a quick "thinking about you" note, send off a card every week or two to cheer her up. Include pictures of your kids, pets, or travels. Have a cheerful bouquet or flowering plant delivered to her on special occasions, or sometimes for no reason at all, so she'll have a visual reminder that you care about her. Send a small gift or personal item to her as a pick-me-up when you sense she's feeling particularly down.
Fun and Interesting Options
Buy a small picture frame with a voice-record option, often available at gift stores. With your kids, sing one of her favorite songs or have each child record a special "I love you, Grandma" message. Fill the frame with a picture of you and the kids and send it off -- she'll love being able to hear your voices at the touch of a button. Or purchase a digital picture frame, load it up with favorite family pictures, and set it up next to her favorite chair to brighten her days with family photos. Ask Grandma's friends and relatives to write a personal note or favorite poem, then arrange them all in a personalized scrapbook that she can look through whenever she needs cheering up.