<!–[CDATA[Caregiving for a senior loved one is a complex role. It can be both rewarding and exhausting. While the majority of family caregivers are spouses or adult children, there is another type of relative who is taking on more care-related tasks in many families—the grandchildren.
As the average age of the population continues to climb, the number of grandchildren who are acting as caregivers is also on the rise. Researchers estimate that one-in-twelve grandchildren in the US are caregivers.
Grandchildren: A Growing Group of Family Caregivers
The National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP joined forces to conduct research on the topic of grandchildren as caregivers. They discovered that 5.3 million adult grandchildren were caring for a grandparent. This amounts to 10% of the family caregiver population.
While most grandchildren find the role to be meaningful, they can also face challenges unique to their situation. From staying in school to managing stress, we encourage you to share these tips with a caregiving grandchild in your life.
4 Tips for Grandchildren Who Are Caregivers
- Connect with a support group: While your friends may be able to lend a sympathetic ear, it’s hard for them to relate to being a grandparent’s caregiver. By connecting with a support group, you will find a group of peers who understand your struggles. Call your local Alzheimer’s Association chapter to find one near you. If you’d prefer to join an online support group, The Family Caregiver Alliance and ALZ Connected are two popular choices to explore.
- Maintain your life: While caregiving for a grandparent you love is a meaningful way to spend your time, don’t put your life entirely on hold. Stay in school or college if you are a student. Keep in touch with friends—beyond just text messages. Finally, ask for and accept help when you need it. There are avenues for support out there that you may not be aware of until you take time to research them. One way to get started is by calling your local office on aging. They can be a good resource throughout your caregiving journey.
- Learn to manage stress: The role of caregiver can be mentally and physically exhausting at every age. For grandchildren, it can be especially tough to watch a grandparent’s health decline. Young adults may not have the life experience necessary to develop healthy coping skills. It can be all too easy to turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as overeating, drinking too much alcohol, or smoking. Instead, try to find a few activities that are known for helping to manage stress, such as journaling, meditation, or yoga.
- Utilize respite care: Finally, accept that every family caregiver needs time to themselves. If there isn’t another family member who can take on your duties in the short-term, consider utilizing respite care. Assisted living communities offer this short-term care option on a regular basis.
If you are the caregiver for a grandparent, we’d like to help. Call us at (853) 457-8271 to learn more about respite care at a Five Star Senior Living community near you!