Putting the whole family at the centre of holiday fun

Families are being encouraged to enjoy multi-generational days out this bank holiday for the benefit of young and old alike.

In anticipation of the extended weekend, Care UK’s dementia expert, Debra Fox, wants people to think about how they can make their holiday fun more multi-generational.

She explained: “Sadly, when you talk to older people, it is not uncommon to often hear how they feel they have of less and less relevance to those around them. They feel as if they are the cared for, and not the ones who can contribute to the family experience.

“In reality, they have a wealth of knowledge and experience that makes them a treasure trove for younger generation and the holiday season gives lots of fun opportunities for our youngsters to benefit from their grandparents’ history and for our grandparents to feel positive, valued and useful.”

Museums that have a focus on social history are an excellent way for older people to share their experiences with children and a great way for them to learn about the past and their family, as well as seeing their grandparents in a new light.

Agricultural museums and working museums show the types of tools and activities grandparents may have seen their parents using in their working life. Many museums have collections of domestic items: people particularly enjoy seeing the things they had in their homes and it gives them a sense of wellbeing, as well as a chance to share stories from their childhood.

Debra said: “Children will be amazed at the idea of wash days that took all day and involved heating a large copper pot, then using a washing dolly and wash board. I love to see how people living with dementia become animated as they recall such memories – and the look of incredulity on the face of young people who are used to throwing everything in a washing machine and tumble drier.”

Nature too has many beneficial effects for the whole the family, with many studies showing benefits to children’s self-esteem as well as increased health and wellbeing benefits to young and old alike.

Debra added: “Dementia often affects a person’s sense of time. Getting out and about helps them get a sense of the season as well as a time of day from what is happening around them. Walking with pet dogs can bring back happy memories of their own pets and, as we know from our own homes, seeing children laugh and play is always a tonic.”

Care UK, which runs 114 care homes, has produced a guidebook, written by its experienced activities coordinators, on how to plan days out. Download a free copy here.

Debra added: “Remember to plan and then just have fun. Keep talking, sharing and taking lots of photographs of your days out to create new family memories for everyone.”

Debra also recommends looking for local museums that focus on homely exhibits of things that would have been familiar to people in the middle of the last century. 

Examples include

  • Amberley Working Museum in West Sussex. It is packed with machines, transport and buildings form yesteryear. As well as a village garage, fire station and bus depot there is a communications hall tracing the history of delivering messages from early semaphore to the modern day. Many of the exhibits are hands on and perfect as conversation starter between the generations. The museum, staffed mainly by knowledgeable volunteers is friendly and the vintage transport, both road and rail, makes the large site easy for all ages to navigate.
  • The Bluebell Railway in East Grinstead. It houses a stunning collection of vintage carriages housed in the main station museum and trains runs throughout the year. Families can learn the history of the Bluebell Railway Line with interactive games, screens and displays and it will bring back memories for older visitors of an age of more elegant transport.
  • The Museum of East Anglian Life in Stowmarket. It is a treasure trove of life in the region, including houses reflecting domestic life from the 1900s and 1950s, along with a school room and recreated shops typical of village stores in East Anglia. The museum can bring back lots of memories that older relatives will be able to share, as well as fun for the younger members of the family with the Mud, Bugs & Baking series of family activities.