Being a Caregiver for a Grandparent Has a Unique Set of Trials
By CarePatrol of Northwest Ohio
We don’t often think of the grandchildren being caregivers for their grandparents, but the reality is one out of a dozen grandchildren are doing just that, caring for the grandparents that once took care of them! According to the National Alliance and AARP, research shows that adult grandchildren make up almost 10% of those family members providing care to seniors. That is a whopping 5.3 million grandchildren caring for their elderly grandparents, and everything points to that trend growing.
Unique Challenges of Caring for Grandparents
Certain challenges are the same regardless of the caregivers’ age: lack of sleep, stress, financial pressures and the uncertainty if you are doing everything right! But as you might expect there are significant differences facing the younger caregivers. The younger caregivers will often put their lives on hold especially in regards to education and even personal relationships in order to fulfill their grandparents needs, and this can put them behind their peers who have already started career development. Caregiving can really take a toll on people and, sometimes the stress can show in the need to just shut down and relax. But as most caregivers will tell you, that is not always so easy to do. Some will find themselves at risk for developing harmful habits such and smoking or drinking. The younger caregiver may not have the maturity to manage these stressors.
- Caregivers experience around- the-clock responsibilities, leaving limited time for socializing. Basically your life is no longer your own.
- Grandchildren can experience great satisfaction but also a tremendous challenge in being caregivers to their grandparents.
There is Help Out There
How can you help? There are numerous resources available for online support and many of these groups are geared towards the younger caregivers. Also there could be financial assistance available that could allow the caregiver to get paid for doing what they are already doing! Below are two options:
- Medicaid: This is a benefit for those will limited financial resources. Programs vary from state to state and even can differ within a state. They can pay for transportation, home care and even some medical supplies. Contact your states Medicaid office for more information.
- Veteran-Directed Care: This program offers assistance to those veterans and spouses who served the country. This can include personal care and a variety of other benefits. Contact your local Veterans Office for more information. Be prepared for a lengthy application process, but it can be well worth the time.
Perhaps the most helpful thing you can do for a friend who is caring for a grandparent is to let them talk and offer respite care options. Respite care offers a break for the caregiver and can be helpful for the older adult as well. Respite can be a couple hours at their home, adult day care or even a couple days at a senior living community.