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A New Age of Caregiving: Grandchildren Caring for Grandparents

Below, Seabury Resources for Aging welcomes Seniorly as they reflect on changing trends in family caregiving. Learn more about Seabury’s programs for family caregivers and senior living options online.


When we think of millennials, we often focus on their digital technology-driven culture and overlook the fact that they are some of the smartest, most selfless people we know. Millennials these days are driven by a desire to help others, and the careers they choose reflect this. In fact, we seem to be entering an entirely new age of caregiving, one in which millennial grandchildren set aside personal goals to support their aging loved ones.

According to the National Alliance for Caregiving and the AARP Policy Institute, the typical millennial caregiver is 27 years old and is just as likely to be male as female (a difference from the traditional caregiver profile). These young adults are generally caring for a 60 year old female relative, most often a parent or grandparent who needs help with a physical condition.

In many cases, the care they provide is comparable to that of the typical caregiver. Although they have been providing care for a shorter period of time (just under three years on average) they spend over 20 hours a week helping with daily living and personal care. Half of millennial caregivers don’t have any additional support. They are what researchers call primary caregivers – the person in the family who does most of the caregiving. Others are secondary caregivers. They help the primary caregiver with both hands-on care and decision making. Tertiary caregivers help periodically with things like grocery shopping or yard work, but don’t make decisions regarding elder care.

Grandchildren are probably not the first people that come to mind when we think of primary caregivers. But one out of 12 caregivers are caring for a grandparent and 8% of all caregivers over the age of 18 are grandchildren. That’s 5.3 million grandchildren caring for grandparents.

Research by Christine Fruhauf and Nancy Orel found that grandchildren have a positive view of their role as caregiver and offer some creative solutions to the challenges they face while caregiving. Some grandchildren are just being supportive of their older family members. Others are filling in after a loved one has died. However, most see their caregiving as reciprocal – caring for the grandparent who cared for them when they were younger. Grandchildren are also happy to provide care now because they know they will miss spending time with their grandparent when they are gone.

Seniorly offers a variety of useful resources and tools for family caregivers: If you or your grandparent live in California, the Seniorly search engine helps you make senior housing decisions based on care needs, budget, the size of communities and a time frame for when your elders want to move. Signing up for free today will give you a partner in the search for senior housing!

From time-to-time Seabury has guest bloggers post on our site. Although we welcome their thoughtful contributions, the views, opinions, and positions expressed within these guest posts are those of the author alone and do not represent those of Seabury Resources for Aging. The copyright of this content belongs to the author and any liability with regards to errors, omissions, representations, or infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them.

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