The Unique Challenges of Caregiving for a Grandparent

July 8, 2019

Caregiving for a Grandparent

When the topic of family caregiving comes up, most of us picture a spouse or adult child as the caregiver, not a grandchild. As our population continues to age, however, an increasing number of grandchildren are taking on this role. In fact, estimates are one-in-twelve grandchildren in the US have assumed the role of caregiver.

In 2015, the National Alliance and AARP conducted research on the topic of caregiving for grandparents. They found that 5.3 million adult grandchildren were caregiving for a grandparent. This represents 10% of the family caregiver population. While most are happy to help provide care for a grandparent, they often encounter different types of challenges than other caregivers.

If you or someone you know is a caregiver for a grandparent, these tips might be useful.

4 Meaningful Tips for Providing Care to a Grandparent

  1. Don’t give up your own life: While caregiving for a grandparent who cared for you is important and rewarding work, don’t put your own life on hold. Stay in touch with friends, and make a point of sticking with college or career plans. Ask for and accept help when you need it.
  2. Develop good stress-management skills: Caregiving is stressful and physically exhausting at any age, but especially for younger adults. Adding to that is the emotional stress that comes from watching a grandparent’s health decline. Grandchildren may also struggle to manage college life or early career demands with caregiving duties. Young adults might not have the life experience to develop healthy coping skills. Exploring stress-reducing activities, like meditating, journaling, swimming, or yoga, might be beneficial. It’s also important to learn to recognize and avoid unhealthy coping methods including overeating, smoking, or consuming too much alcohol.
  3. Learn about respite care: No one can do it alone when it comes to caregiving. If no one else in the family can help with caregiving duties, consider utilizing respite care. This short-term care option gives an older adult a safe place to stay at an assisted living community for a few days or weeks.
  4. Connect with a support group: While non-caregiving friends may be able to sympathize, it’s hard for them to understand a caregiver’s life. The peer to peer support of fellow caregivers is best. Some grandchildren might prefer an in-person support group, and others may want to connect with an online support group. Your local agency on aging might help you find one to attend in your local area. If you’d prefer an online support group, The Family Caregiver Alliance and ALZ Connected are two resources to consider.

Respite Care at Legacy Senior Living

If you are a caregiver for a grandparent and you are feeling weary and overwhelmed, respite care might be the solution. Your senior loved one can stay at a Legacy Senior Living community while you restore your sense of well-being. Call the community nearest you to learn more today!