Friday, February 1, 2019

A Healthy You Benefits Your Grandchild Too!



By Raquel Daniels GRANDcares Site Coordinator, Larimer County

As the beginning of the New Year has come again and school is back in session, it can be easy to get caught up in the routine of running from errand to errand without taking time to pause. Drop-off, daycare, homework, and sports; at times the load can be physically and emotionally overwhelming. That is why it is important to remember to take time to care for yourself.

With the regular routine of the day it is easy to put off your own needs by prioritizing the needs of others, but it is essential to remember you are important too. Taking some time for yourself to relax should not be considered a luxury, it is a necessity. One of the best ways to support your grandchild is to support yourself. Regularly setting aside some time to relax, take up a hobby, exercise or another activity you find enjoyable will help avoid burnout in the future. While at times it may sometimes lead to feelings of guilt, reframing that thought by reminding yourself why taking time for yourself is important can counteract some negative self-talk. Making an effort to plan healthy meals, get adequate sleep and attending regular medical visits can all be beneficial to your overall health and well-being.

Along with taking time for yourself, spending time with others can be beneficial as well. Utilizing supports in your area such as social support groups or community resources can help you feel more connected to your community through a sense of belonging and feel less alone. Remembering to give yourself permission to pause and be kind to yourself in doing so will go a long way.

Several supports right in Larimer County, Colorado are:

“HUGS” daytime social group through the Grand Family Coalition Inc.,
For more information contact Gail Engel at gail@grandfamilycoalition.org or 970-699-2837

Grandfamily Support Program through the Namaqua Center
For more information contact Craig Callan at craig.calla.@summitstonehealth.org or 970-494-4231

Wellness Classes offered at Fort Collins Senior Center
For more information contact Sue Schneider at sdschneider@larimer.org or 970-498-6014

To find supports in your state visit Grandfamilies.org to see what programs are available near you:




Friday, November 30, 2018

Celebrating Grandparents raising Grandchildren on National Caregiver's Month


Written by: Destiny-Joyce Quinsaat-Tobosa, Program Assistant, GRANDcares


“Family members, friends, and neighbors devote countless hours to providing care to their relatives or loved ones. During National Family Caregivers Month, we recognize and thank the humble heroes who do so much to keep our families and communities strong.”

President Barack Obama, NFC Month Proclamation 2012
We have just finished celebrating National Family Caregiver month! A month dedicated to family caregivers that allows organizations to raise awareness of family caregiver issues, increase support for caregivers, and most importantly CELEBRATE all they do! President Clinton signed the first National Family Caregiver Month Presidential Proclamation in 1997 and every president since has continued by issuing an annual proclamation recognizing and honoring family caregivers each November (https://caregiveraction.org/national-family-caregivers-month-background).

My name is Destiny and I am the GRANDcares Program Assistant in Maui County. I was introduced to the program back in 2017 when my mom started taking the classes in Kahului. Since then, GRANDcares has been very important and close to my heart. Currently, I can see my mom taking the tools she has learned from the classes and implementing them into her own life to help reduce the everyday stress she experiences from taking care of my niece. My mom often uses “Me Moments” to help her regain her train of thought and to help her calm down. She also uses the Action Plan in order to set and keep to her goals. The program has dramatically impacted the way my family dynamic is since we can all take some tips and use them in our day to day lives.


The Hawaii and Colorado GRANDcares programs celebrate and honor all caregiving participants – grandparents raising grandchildren and all other types of family caregivers.  

Many of the grandparent caregivers who have participated in GRANDcares find it difficult at times to think of and put themselves first. But even small self-care steps taken daily or weekly have made a big difference – both to themselves and their grandchildren. Here are some of the steps our grandparents have taken:
      Take medications on time each day
      Stop for 30 minutes to watch a show (Criminal Minds is a personal favorite of mine at the moment)
      Know personal limits – and say “NO!”
      Ask for and accept help from others
      Talk to a counselor, friend or family member who is a good listener
      Post notes around the house that are reminders that you are as important as the grandchildren you are raising
      Hire a babysitter and go to a movie or sit on the beach
      Take time out without feeling guilt

We honor and celebrate all that grandparents do and sacrifice to make sure that their grandchildren grow up healthy, happy and safe. You are not alone and we encourage you to continue your great work, to reach out to others in similar situations, and most importantly to stop to take care of yourselves so that you and your grandchildren can thrive.

Monday, June 25, 2018

GRANDcares Youth Club: A GRAND Kick off in Hawaii!

Written by: Jordyn Paa, Assistant Marketing Research Analyst, GRANDcares

Since 2015, GRANDcares has provided education and services to grandparents raising grandchildren. During our free classes, grandparents are able to learn and grow with other grandparents in the same situation, but what about grandchildren? GRANDcares launched the GRANDcares Youth Club on Maui in April 2018.  Within this innovative curriculum designed for keiki ages 8-14, who are currently being raised by grandparents, the youth build upon their leadership skills, self-confidence, communication skills and goal setting strategies. The GRANDcares Youth Club shares similar foundations to the 4-H Youth Club, which targets life skills to take care of “Head, Heart, Hands, and Health”. The motto of the GRANDcares Youth Club is “Grandfamilies Take Care of Each Other”.

One Youth Club member in particular, Kanai, highlights his experience with the new GRANDcares program. “It is a way to meet others who are going through the same situation. Sharing and learning from others can sometimes help with trials that may occur in your own life.”

Within the Youth Club, keiki get to participate in hands-on activities such as problem solving with paper airplanes, dynamic stretching, and tai chi. The classes for grandchildren run at the same time as the classes for grandparents.  The program was designed with the intention that families will take home what they learned in class and practice together to reach family goals and resolve challenges.

“I love socializing with others in the club,” Kanai said, “We’ve been trying to implement what we’ve learned in classes to our own lifestyles.”


Our next GRANDcares Youth Club in Maui starts on September 19 on Wednesday’s from 5:00 - 7:30pm. The classes are FREE and include dinner.  For children that are under 8 years old, supervision and activities will be available.  You can register yourself and your grandchildren by emailing grandcaresmaui@gmail.com.

Join our grandfamily community and meet some awesome Youth Club members like Kanai!  We hope to see you soon!   

Follow us on Instagram @grandcareshawaii or like us on Facebook @grandcareshawaii








Friday, April 27, 2018

Mindful Self-Care



By Sue Schneider, Family & Consumer Science & Community Development Agent, Larimer County Extension

Our culture has long reinforced the idea that self-care is selfish. We are taught to wear busyness and selflessness as badges of honor. Yet unfettered commitments to our jobs, families, and communities can often leave us overwhelmed and exhausted. Our burnout shows up in physician’s offices where 75 – 90% of all visits are related to stress. We want to find magic bullets to help us manage stress when we feel our lives spinning out of control.  But magic bullets don’t exist.

As we know, it can be really hard to turn around difficult circumstances in our lives. And making big changes takes time. But it is important to acknowledge that our difficult circumstances are not always the cause of our stress. Often, our reactions to our circumstances create much of our suffering. We tend to pour fuel onto our perceived difficulties when we view them with anxiety, fear, negativity, or judgement. We often catastrophize worst case scenarios, blame others or ourselves for things gone wrong, and numb ourselves to our pain through electronic devises, overwork, and substances. We turn away from our difficulties rather than leaning into them and learning what they have to teach us. In this way, we strengthen the habitual tendencies that aggravate our stress again and again.

In this video series on mindful self-care, we will explore another set of options; how to press the pause button, return to the present, work skillfully with difficulties, and prioritize our wellbeing in the midst of stressful events. We will learn how to deactivate the “habits of mind” that escalate our distress while strengthening our capacity for acceptance, self-compassion, ease, and joy. Mindful self-care means opening up space to attend to your own needs and developing health-promoting habits that serve your body, mind, and heart. Self-care takes practice and commitment. These videos can get you started by offering practical concepts and tools. Along the way, you will learn that mindfulness is not a magic bullet but rather a powerful guide for a lifelong journey back to the present.






Wednesday, March 21, 2018

2018 Free Days



By:  Gloria Sanchez, Adams County Site Coordinator

It’s springtime! Birds are chirping, days are longer, the sun is shining, children are ready to go outside, and summer is around the corner!  Many parents find themselves asking questions like, “What are we going to do? How are we going to entertain the kids? What will they do for fun?”  Well, not to worry because 2018’s free days are here!  For the last few years, the Denver area’s cultural institutions such as museums, gardens, and the zoo have offered FREE DAYS for the community.  These are days when admissions to such places are FREE FOR ALL to visit.  This initiative is largely welcomed by those on a budget and is especially convenient for families.  Every year, several institutions offer different days throughout the year for families to visit for FREE! The Scientific and Cultural Facilities District provides a calendar with a monthly listing of free days that can be found at scfd.org. For example, this month you can enjoy the Clyfford Still Museum (1250 Bannock St.) Friday evenings from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. 

But the fun doesn’t stop there!  As the days warm up, have a family picnic at the Hudson Gardens (6115 S. Sante Fe Dr.) or Chatfield Farms (8500 W. Deer Creek Canyon Rd.).  If you are an art lover, you can plan a visit to the Denver Art Museum (100 W. 14th Ave. Parkway) or the Arvada Center Galleries (6901 Wadsworth Blvd.).  The Children’s Museum of Denver at Marisco Campus (2121 Children’s Museum Dr.) offers free admissions from 4:00 – 8:00 p.m. the first Tuesday of every month throughout the year. 

Check out the dinosaurs, mummies and awesome exhibits at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science (2001 S. Colorado Blvd.), and if you visit in the summertime, be sure to bring a towel and enjoy the splash pad in the adjoining park.  If your grandchild is a little builder, your local Home Depot also offers workshops on Saturdays mornings (registration required).

While all of these are amazing ways to spend your days, don’t forget you can always visit your local library, take a walk or bike-ride on a nearby trail, or just go run around at the neighborhood playground.  There are many free options or low cost activities that you can do with your grandchildren.  I have only mentioned a few, so check out the rest on the Scientific & Cultural Facilities District website at http://scfd.org/p/free-days-calendar.html.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

GRANDcares Phase Two: Positive Youth Development


     GRANDcares program is excited to announce the completion of a newly developed curriculum for children ages 9-12 years old.  The six-week educational intervention was developed by teams from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and Colorado State University.  The curriculum was created outside of the box, and the classroom is transformed into the “GRANDcares Youth Club”.  The program features interactive classes that are packed with lively learning activities.  The GRANDcares program is implemented in three phases; strengthening self-care for grandparent caregivers, developing communication and leadership skills in grandchildren, and increasing the ability of service providers to meet grandfamilies' needs.  The GRANDcares Youth Club will launch off the second phase for the national pilot program funded through USDA.  In 2016, the first phase of GRANDcares, was introduced to grandparents raising grandchildren in Hawaii and Colorado.  The first phase is ongoing and the six-week course for grandparents will run simultaneously with the Youth Club.  

A unique element of the GRANDcares Youth Club is that it was designed specifically for grandchildren being raised by grandparents. Research indicates that many children being raised by grandparents may encounter greater risk of behavioral and emotional hurdles.  There are many reasons for this, often the event of losing a parent or being taken away from a parent, is a traumatic experience for young children.  The GRANDcares Youth Club deliberately created activities for youth to strengthen their resiliency, or the ability of a person to recover after experiencing trauma and to overcome problems and difficulties.  The GRANDcares Youth Club is rooted in recognizing and enhancing young people’s strengths while promoting positive youth development.  Each week of the club provides hands-on learning experiences, that have been curated to build leadership skills, encourage self-confidence, practice communications skills and learn goal setting strategies.  Based on similar foundations of 4H Clubs, the GRANDcares Youth Club also helps youth develop and practice important life skills.  By providing “tools” for life skills, they will have more resources to cope with daily situations, make important decisions and enhance their quality of life.

In September 2017, the Youth Club was tested for the first time on the Big Island, Hawaii.  (Photo above) A small group of youth volunteered to be the first to experience part of the Youth Club program as the team reviewed and edited the curriculum accordingly.  Just last week, the first team of Youth Facilitators for the program were trained at the University of Hawaii at Manoa on Maui.  The GRANDcares Youth Club begins on Thursday April 5- May 24th, 2018, 5pm-7pm on Maui.  The classes are 90 minutes and prior to this, the grandfamilies are invited to talk story and enjoy a free light meal together.  Currently on the Big Island, GRANDcares program’s first phase is underway with grandparent caregivers until March 31st.  Dates will be announced soon for the Youth Club on Big Island.  To find out more information contact grandcaresmaui@gmail.com

This week, a team from Hawaii is traveling to Colorado State University to train Youth Facilitators.  The GRANDcares Youth Club will launch in Colorado on March 28th (kick off!) at 4:30-7:00 pmThe program will run until May 9th in Fort Collins.  For more information contact Jana.Carson@colostate.edu   There is no cost to join the classes, but space is limited. 

Written by: Christine Spencer, Site Facilitator, GRANDcares Maui

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

One Layer of Being a Grandparent Raising a Grandchild: Shame and Guilt


By Gail Engle, Founder of Grand Family Coalition 
& Jana Carson GRANDcares Site Coordinator

My child has failed as a parent!

There is nothing more devastating than feeling this in your heart. You know you have done everything you thought was right. You did the best you could; you’ve given it your all. You know that like everyone else, you have made mistakes and that your own life has gotten you into some sticky stuff, but still the questions creep in and take over. “Was I that bad of a parent? I thought I taught them better than this. Why?! What went wrong? Where did “I” go wrong?”

This shame and guilt will consume you and make you angry. You want to fix it and make it go away. You want to make it all better. Your child only wants you to listen, but listening feels like you are condoning the behavior—the behavior that has caused you and so many others such stress and pain. Instead, you shake your finger, scold them, and think you can shame them into making better choices. You can’t. It doesn’t work. The more you try, the more you push them away. This makes you feel even worse. Sometimes the idea of being one big happy family can feel so hopeless and far away.

These are some of the many thoughts and feelings that I as a grandparent raising my grandchild experience. I have heard many of the same things through my interactions with other grandparents in similar situations. It can be so difficult not to blame yourself. It can be so hard not to place all the responsibility for our child’s choices and actions on ourselves.

It makes sense that we would want to fix the situation, but one of the most important things to keep in mind is to remember that this is not your fault. This is not your undoing.

This may be one of the most difficult things you will ever have to do. But as one wise grandmother told me, “I never lost hope, and I never will.”

We are resilient.