If you’re providing care for a grandparent who is living with age-related challenges or disabilities, you’re not alone. Adults are living longer, which means grandchildren often become prime caregiving candidates. According to the National Alliance for Caregiving & AARP, around 44 million Americans are acting as family caregivers.
Caregiving has advantages for grandchildren such as increased confidence, building empathy, and extra quality time with their loved ones. It can also be a struggle for some grandchildren who are delaying their own lives to provide care. It is not uncommon for caregivers to postpone their careers, education, relationships and even parenthood so that they can be a full-time provider for their grandparent. Caregiving is a fulfilling but difficult role, so here are 4 coping strategies:
1. Engage in Social Media
Social Media is an integral part of our lives, especially for the younger generation. The key to social media is to stay engaged - there are Facebook, Instagram, and Tiktok pages dedicated to young caregivers. Connecting and engaging on social media can offer support, advice, and friendship. It is a great place to share personal stories to help the user feel less alone. Following hashtags like #familycaregiver #AARP #kupunacaregiver will also help users stay up-to-date with the latest information that pertains to the caregiving world.
2. Utilize Resources
There are a lot of resources out there that can help in all aspects of caregiving. We always recommend The Office of Elderly Affairs to find assistance with meals, transportation, health insurance, elderly housing, and more. On social media, we find it helpful to follow caregiving hashtags or accounts. It can lead to digital workshops, help groups, caregiving kits, and blogs that can help you assist your grandparent.
3. Ask for Help
Caregiver burnout occurs when family caregivers do not get the help that they need when caring for their senior loved one.
One of the biggest contributors to caregiver burnout is guilt - many of us feel guilty if we spend time on ourselves rather than on our ill or elderly loved ones. It is important to reach out to other family members, close friends, or even neighbors to see who can offer respite. Caregiving often “takes a village”, so it is nearly impossible to designate a single individual for all responsibilities.
Remember that you might not need a nurse or a medical professional to help - simple tasks such as grocery shipping, a friendly neighbor checking-in, or feeding your grandparent’s pets might help free up time for yourself. If you cannot find someone willing to help, consider hiring a caregiver. Your grandparent might qualify for financial assistance if cost is a concern.
4. Keep Your Hobbies
Caregiving is hard work, rewarding, fulfilling and heartbreaking. Being a caregiver can quickly eat away at your free time because you want to be there for the good and bad days. Remember that your grandparent does not want you to overwork yourself, even if it includes their own care. It is important to have help (multiple family caregivers or hired help) so that you can make time for yourself - even if you need to schedule it in. Self care is a necessity so make sure to leave time for your hobbies, friends, and life outside of caregiving.