Grandchildren are often overlooked when their parents are discussing how to care for their parents. Wanting to protect their children from the pain of watching their grandparents’ decline, some adults may even push the kids aside.
However, most grandchildren who have had a loving relationship with their grandparents want to do whatever they can to support them, and families making a senior care decision could greatly benefit from their involvement.
The American Association of Caregiving Youth, a Florida-based organization serving as a “national resource for the support of children who are caring for ill, injured, elderly, or disabled family members,” estimates 1.4 million children (between the ages of eight and 18) are active caregivers. According to U.S. Census data, over 6 million children live with a grandparent.
The numbers speak clearly: grandchildren of all ages are either already involved in caregiving, or ready to step into the role. While some tasks may not be appropriate (handling the finances of a care transition, for example), grandchildren are sometimes better at talking to their grandparents about what they want and how they’re feeling about the changes ahead. Searching for care online is a great task to delegate to grandchildren too, as they are usually more internet-savvy than their older family members.
Check out our Grandparents and Intergenerational Activities Resource Guide for more ideas.
Talk back: Do you think children can and should be involved in caregiving?