Lifestyle & Retirement / Relationships / Senior Living / Whaddya Think, Dr. Fink?

Aargh. Oyyy. Eeeeek.

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It wasn’t coming from me. My grandson Johnny was playing make-believe Nana.

We all know the aargs, oyyys, and eeeeeks when we get up from the floor, out of a soft couch, or hoist kids onto countertops. They’re the huffs and puffs of after fifty living.

Let’s face it – grandchildren, grandnieces and nephews, and other related kids can be our greatest joy . . . and our greatest challenge. Does your shoulder ache from holding that delightfully cooing baby? Do you have to decline an invitation to play Peppa Pig on the floor? Have you learned the difference between Snapchat, Kik, and WhatsApp?

Join the club. These days it takes a lot to be cool. The facts speak for themselves. There are over 70 million grandparents in the country. Studies show 72% say being a grandparent is the single most important and satisfying thing in their life – even when 83% work full, part-time, or have their own business.

Jimmy Carter designated National Grandparents Day on the Sunday after Labor Day. Not to be outdone, President Obama issued Proclamation 8560, making it official. “National Grandparents Day” declared Mr. Obama, “presents a chance to show our profound appreciation and respect for the central roles that family elders play in our lives.”

Marian Shields Robinson

Marian Shields Robinson

Who would know better than the man who spent eight years in The White House with “The First Granny,” Marian Shields Robinson (Michelle Obama’s Mom)? I’m sure there was a lot of Mother-in-Law quid pro quo.

Researchers love to study these things. They found some interesting facts (stuff we knew without breaking the social science bank). Kids are good for us. Caring for grandchildren (or other related kids) one day a week lowers the risk of Alzheimers. It has a positive effect on mental health and acts as an antidepressant for both AFL-ers and the children they babysit.

Grandparents also have money. One study found they control 75% of the wealth in this country – spending $52 billion of it on their grandkids. Just ask The First Granny.

Think of it this way. Everyone loves grandparents. Consider television favorites like beloved Grandma and Grandpa Walton (Zebulon and Esther). Who could forget Grandma’s wisdom, “go fish today and poker tomorrah!”

Archie and Edith Bunker turned to mush over their grandson, Little Joey. An Archie Bunker Grandson Doll was an instant hit.

Homer Simpson sent grizzled Grampa Abe to live in the Springfield Retirement Castle. Grampa’s escapades were infamous. Perhaps his most memorable line was, “if I’m not back at the home by nine, they declare me legally dead and collect my insurance.”

drjeri-aargh-2Then there was the haughty Violet Crawley, grandmother and Dowager Countess of Grantham, on Downton Abbey. Her pedigree was flawless; her sharp tongue reverberated through castle halls. In one episode, Violet advised her granddaughter Edith, “don’t be defeatist, dear, it’s very middle class.”


These days Johnny doesn’t play make-believe Nana. He watches The Weather Channel instead of Nickelodeon and gives regular forecasts. He wants to be a meteorologist although he has a tough time saying the word.


A few months ago we were supposed to visit during a tropical storm. He solemnly advised his mom that Nana and Poppy were old, couldn’t see very well, and the storm caused poor visibility.   Kind of like our own personal PAC.

We should do the driving,” Johnny insisted.

Mom did.

   Aargs, oyyys, and eeeeeks might not be so bad.

Dr. Jeri Fink, author, photographer, traveler, and family therapist, challenges the creaky myths of aging. She believes that now is a creative, exciting time to grow and explore new ideas, people, and places. Visit Dr. Jeri at,,   or to enter her world of discovery, fun, and insights. Her fiction project, Broken, is a series of seven thrillers that defy tradition. She is presently working on Book Web Minis – a series of fun, fast and positive mini books (50-70 pages long) where readers partner with the experts. Check it out at

She tells us: “I challenge the art of writing by merging fact, fictional elements, interactivity, and photography into nonfiction mini books. I draw from my training in social work, experience in individual and family therapy, professional research, and passion for exploring positive psychology. My 32 published books, hundreds of articles and blogs, speaking engagements, and active online presence all reflect who I am today.”

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