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Support Your Grandkids’ Health and Safety

As a grandparent, you guide and strengthen them through the milestones of their lives—learning to walk, ride a bike, read, play music, practice sports, and more. You can support their health and learning in many ways, including the following:

  • Photo: GrandparentsShare your family health history—It's a written or graphic record of the diseases and health conditions in your family. You can't change your genes, but you can change behaviors that affect your health, such as smoking, inactivity, and poor eating habits. People who have a close family member with a chronic disease (for instance, diabetes) may have a higher risk of developing that disease than those without such a family member. Take a health quiz with your children and grandchildren to determine risk for certain diseases or conditions.
  • Family Health History
    My Family Health Portrait
  • Get vaccinated—Infants are at greatest risk for getting pertussis (whooping cough) and then having severe complications from it, including death. As a grandparent, you can help protect your grandchild by getting the adult pertussis shot (Tdap) at least two weeks before visiting the baby. Although most adults were vaccinated against pertussis or may have had the disease as a child, that protection wears off over time.
  • Pertussis (Whooping Cough) Prevention
    Grandparents Can Help Protect Against Whooping Cough with Tdap Vaccine [PDF - 297KB]
  • Store medications properly— More than 60,000 young children end up in emergency departments every year because they got into medicines while their parent or caregiver was not looking. Keep all medicines and vitamins up and away and out of sight of your grandchildren. Keep purses, bags, or coats that have medicines or vitamins in them out of reach of grandchildren. Set a daily reminder to take your medicines and vitamins on your refrigerator or a location you check on a daily basis, since they will be safely stored up and away and out of sight. Program the national Poison Help number, 1-800-222-1222, along with other emergency contact numbers, into your home and cell phone, so they are available in case of an emergency.
  • Put Your Medicines Up and Away
    Tips for Grandparents on Safe Medicine Storage [PDF - 103KB]
  • Model healthy behavior—Kids watch what you do. Eat healthy. Diets rich in fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases. Fruits and vegetables also provide essential vitamins and minerals, fiber, and other substances that are important for good health. Limit foods and drinks high in calories, sugar, salt, fat, and alcohol.
  • Be active for at least 2½ hours a week. Include activities that raise your breathing and heart rates and that strengthen your muscles.
  • Help kids and teens be active for at least 1 hour a day. Include activities that raise their breathing and heart rates and that strengthen their muscles and bones.
  • Nutrition for Everyone
    Physical Activity for Everyone
  • Quit smoking—More than 1 out of 2 kids (aged 3-11 years) are exposed to secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke contains harmful chemicals and causes disease. It causes sudden infant death syndrome and a number of health conditions in children, such as middle ear infections, more severe asthma, and respiratory infections. If you can't stop yet, never smoke or allow others to smoke in your home or car or around your grandchildren.
  • People start smoking and using smokeless tobacco primarily during adolescence. Teach your grandchildren about the health risks of smoking and secondhand smoke. Support their efforts to quit.
  • For support in quitting, including free quit coaching, a free quit plan, free educational materials and referrals to local resources, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669).
  • Tobacco Use: Smoking & Secondhand Smoke
    Quit Smoking
  • Build and maintain positive relationships with your grandchildren—The support of parents and other primary caregivers, such as grandparents, has a direct and significant effect on youths' risk-taking behavior and likelihood to engage in violence. A healthy and strong relationship helps to buffer a young person from developing violent behavior, even when young people are exposed to violence in their communities. Safe, stable, and nurturing relationships are essential to assure that young people reach their full potential.
  • Adolescent and School Health: For Parents and Families
    Violence Prevention
  • Be involved in your grandchildren's school—Through your guidance and support, you can have great influence on your grandchildren's well-being. Adult primary caregivers, including grandparents, play a significant role in supporting children's health and learning. Research links a caregiver's involvement to better student behavior, grades, tests scores, and social skills.
  • In addition, students with caregivers involved in their school lives are less likely to smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, become pregnant, and be physically inactive.
  • Especially if you are raising grandchildren, you can
    • Monitor children's daily activities. Know children's whereabouts and friends.
    • Communicate consistently with school staff about school health-related activities and other community programs that focus on health.
    • Take time to volunteer at your grandchild's school. Share your skills and knowledge.
    • Take advantage of the workshops and classes the school provides for caregivers.
    • Be involved in the school's health decisions.
    • Know what community health services the school supports.
    • Support learning about health in your home. Help with homework. Share health-related learning experiences with grandchildren, such as shopping for healthy foods and cooking dinner or packing lunch together.
  • Parent Engagement: Strategies for Involving Parents in School Health [PDF - 1.7MB]
    Ways to Engage in Your Child's School to Support Student Health and Learning [PDF - 724KB]
  • Photo: Grandfather and grandson working on a bicycle wheelProtect the ones you love—Help keep grandchildren safe in the home, on the road, at play, and elsewhere. Injuries are the leading cause of death for young people aged 19 and younger, but most child injuries can be prevented.
  • It's especially important to watch out for children's safety when they're walking near traffic. As pedestrians, children are at even greater risk of injury or death from traffic crashes due to their small size, inability to judge distances and speeds, and lack of experience with traffic rules.
  • Protect the Ones You Love
    Color Me Safe
    Teen Drivers

America's New Health Insurance Marketplace

Beginning October 1, millions of Americans will be able to get affordable health insurance that includes many free preventive services and comprehensive coverage for services such as physician visits, preventive care, hospital stays, and prescriptions. New tax credits can reduce insurance premiums right away. And insurance plans will no longer be able to charge you more or refuse to provide coverage for you or your family if you have a pre-existing condition.

In the new Health Insurance Marketplace you'll be able to look for insurance that fits your budget and meets your needs. Coverage starts as soon as January 1, 2014. Call 1-800-318-2596 or visit healthcare.gov for more information.

Medicare

If you have Medicare, don't drop your coverage. The Health Insurance Marketplace isn't for people who have Medicare. Medicare's open enrollment period (October 15-December 7) hasn't changed.

The good news is that the Marketplace won't affect your Medicare choices, and your benefits won't be changing. No matter how you get Medicare, whether through Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage Plan, you'll still have the same benefits and security you have now. You won't have to make any changes.

Even better news is that Medicare benefits such as free preventive benefits, cancer screenings, and an annual wellness visit have expanded under the health care law. And you can save money if you're in the Medicare drug coverage "doughnut hole." To learn more about preventive services and "doughnut-hole" coverage, visit the What if I Have Medicare? page on healthcare.gov.

For more information on Medicare coverage and choices, visit medicare.gov.

 

More Information

 

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  • Page last reviewed: September 3, 2013
  • Page last updated: September 3, 2013
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