Got grandkids? If so, chances are good that your painful joints sometimes spoil your fun with them. But with a little imagination and a few changes in activities, it’s possible to come up with several ways to have fun with grandchildren while minimizing physical discomfort.

And, as an added benefit to people with chronic conditions, several of these activities involve exercise, which can alleviate joint pain. Others stimulate the brain, which can ward off early signs of Alzheimer’s disease.


Get up and set up. Knee-punishing floor games, such as stacking blocks, putting puzzles together and assembling Legos or magnetic building sets, can become table activities. You can sort pieces and help figure out directions.

Get crafty. Working together on craft projects, such as scrapbooks, collages or special-occasion cards, is a great way to have fun with grandchildren and encourage little ones’ creativity. You even could supply them with easy-to-use disposable cameras to take photos for their projects. Provide kid-safe plastic scissors, and assign grandkids the task of cutting while you do the gluing.

Bond and support. Playing catch may not be an option if you have sore shoulders, but you can find other pain-free ways of bonding with little sports fans. Involve them in collecting baseball cards, pennants or other memorabilia from their favorite team. Share in their hobby by taking them to games, trading events or the local library to search for information on players they like.

Start scavenging. Obtain various restaurant coupons, movie passes or sporting event tickets before the grandchildren visit, and hide them throughout the house. Hold a scavenger hunt in which the first kid to find one is permitted to choose the event for the day.

Mix it up. Whip up a batch of sugar cookies. Grandparents can supervise the measuring of ingredients and sliding the baking sheets in and out of the oven, while the youngsters mix the batter, press out shapes with cookie cutters, and decorate with frosting and colored sugar. 

Reward helpers. Cleaning works best when older children handle more strenuous tasks, such as vacuuming, and Grandma or Grandpa dusts. Allow youngsters to keep any loose change they find underneath and behind sofa cushions. Smart grandparents might even want to hide change ahead of time to motivate housekeeping helpers.