This post is made possible with support from AARP’s Disrupt Aging. All opinions are my own.
I recently turned 35 this past October.
Throughout the last year, I have learned several hard lessons, the hardest being that at some point we will all see our loved ones get older. As they get older there comes the question of who will take care of them in their advanced age. When it came to my grandparents, there was no question for my mom who immediately retired from her job to take care my grandmother who was ill, and my grandfather who was battling cancer at the time.
During this time, watching her care and sacrifice not only her job of 25+ years but at some points her on sanity, only help to reinforce with my siblings and me, how important it is that we are there for our own parents in the same loving capacity when the time comes.
I didn’t realize, however, that I would be thrust into that role sooner rather than later.
After my grandmother past in mid-July, my grandfather came to live with us several months later. I saw firsthand what goes into taking care of an aging parent because I was helping to do so.
Outside of the physical aspect of having to help them, there is the emotional aspect. I have often heard that because I am younger that it would be easier to manage, and that when the time comes for my own parents to be cared for, that I will have an easier time having experienced it already. Let me tell that is just not true.
No one prepares you emotionally for having to be everything and everyone to someone around the clock. And while I am 100% grateful and thankful that I have the opportunity to give my grandfather peace of mind at this stage in his life, that doesn’t negate the emotional hardships that I go through as well.
Even though there are the rough moments, nothing gives me joy like talking to my grandfather about his early days and our family history. Just in this short time, I have learned so much about our family (both the good and bad), and I’m glad that I will have the opportunity to take those stories and pass them on to my own children.
Millennial Caregivers Aren’t Rare
Out of the nearly 40 million caregivers that are in the United States, 24% of them are Millennials. This means that we are stepping up to the plate, just as our boomer parents when it comes to taking care of aging family members.
Whether it’s the weekly transfusions or appointments, helping with showers/bathroom time, as well as feeding and dressing, we are taking it all on. Sadly, however, many of us are also having to do all of this while holding on to full-time jobs as well.
We Need To Talk
People get older. That is reality. The baby boomer generation is huge, and pretty soon there will be an even bigger influx of elderly adults who require care. As Millennials, we have to start the conversation now. Proper resources, leave time, wages all will play into how effective we are able to care for our aging parents/family members in the next 20 to 30 years. If you are starting the process now with taking care of an aging family member, I encourage you to take a look at the Family Caregiver Toolkit from AARP. It will provide you with the resources that you need to help navigate during this time.
Are you a Millennial caregiver or know someone who is? Follow me on social @NatashaVBrown and let me know how you are navigating this process!
Love of impromptu dance parties, 80’s cartoons, and horizontal life pauses (aka naps); Natasha Brown is a stay at home mom of 4 kids, and wife to one lucky guy! In her spare time, she is co-editor of Grits & Grace, as well as editor for The Mother Hustler Blog and Creative Director for the Mother Hustler podcast.