Around the world, grandparents “repair toilets, paint houses and change nappies” while their children pursue their careers. That’s what Ian Linden, a professor and policy director for the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, says in a recent post for HelpAge International.
Linden’s article brings an important reality to light: grandparents are playing “a vital role in family life” these days. They are actively engaged in the heavy lifting and hard work of their families, many raising grandchildren and great-grandchildren as their own, and many more providing full- or part-time care. Given the exploding numbers of older adults and a growing number of orphaned, neglected, and in-crisis children, there is likely no country or continent where grandparents are not providing some kind of support to their family.
How do we reconcile this reality to the real needs of these grandparents? When a grandparent who is a primary caregiver needs help, what happens to him and to the child in his care?
When financial resources are severely limited, what member of the family makes the most sacrifices? It’s typically the elder. However, we cannot continue burdening our elders with our care requests if we aren’t ready to provide for them.
It’s time to stand up in support of our grandparents, biological and relational, across the street and across the sea. How will you support an elder in your family today?