A grandchild probably isn’t the first person you envision when the topic of family caregivers is raised. Most of us think of a spouse or an adult child as the adult most likely to care for a family elder. The reality is that one-in-twelve grandchildren in this country have assumed the role of caregiver.
In research conducted in 2015 by the National Alliance and AARP, 5.3 million grandchildren over the age of 18 were caregivers for a grandparent. This number accounted for 10% of the entire family caregiver population. While most grandchildren are happy to help care for a grandparent, they often face different types of challenges than an older caregiver.
If you know a grandchild who is caring for a grandparent, they might find these caregiving tips to be useful.
There’s no avoiding the fact that caregiving is stressful. Witnessing the decline of a beloved grandparent’s health can be emotional. Caregiving grandchildren may also be attending high school or college, and be struggling to manage it all.
Young adults may not have enough life experience to have developed healthy coping skills. That’s why it is important for them to take time each day to engage in stress-reducing activities, such as walking, meditating, journaling, or practicing yoga. These activities can help avoid unhealthy ways of managing stress, such as overeating, smoking, or consuming alcohol.
While caring for a grandparent is a noble deed and a rewarding experience, grandchildren should not put their lives on hold for this role. It’s important that they ask for help so they are able to keep up with schoolwork, friends, and favorite hobbies. Taking time away from caregiving can make these responsibilities more manageable.
No one can take on the role of caregiver all alone. If there aren’t other family members who can pitch in, caregiving grandchildren might want to consider respite care. These short-term services allow an older adult to stay at a senior living community for a few days or weeks. This can give the primary caregiver a break. If the senior’s budget is limited, some communities have financial resources to assist with any costs. Call your local agency on aging to learn more about low-income respite care options.
There’s no better person to turn to for advice and support than a fellow caregiver. Fortunately, there are a variety of online support groups that make connecting easier. The Family Caregiver Alliance is a helpful site to explore and ALZ Connected is another.
If you are a grandchild feeling overwhelmed with the role of caregiver, it may be time to begin the search for an assisted living or memory care community for your grandparent. One of our experienced senior care advisors can help you every step of the way.
Call us today at 888-514-6461 to talk with a local senior care advisor. Their advice and support is always free!