This post is made possible with support from AARP’s Disrupt Aging. All opinions are my own.
Did you know that according to AARP, there are over 40 million American adults providing support to a family member over the age of 50? Would you be surprised that 24% of these adults are milennials? Now imagine being thrown into this role without warning.
My father in law was forced into retirement which included the usual fanfare, a fancy watch and a lovely celebration. He had given more than 30 years of endless days and sleepless nights to this company. Many told him that it would be a rebirth but in hindsight, I think he saw it as something else.
In pursuit of remaining busy, he decided to attend culinary school and we immediately saw that it was the added sparkle that he needed. He was happy that he could host family dinners and show off his new skills to friends. This sparkle seemed to dim overnight as the doctors informed him that his eyesight was deteriorating and cooking was not advised. The doctor advised against pretty much everything that he could enjoy solo. We saw the look of defeat as the once vibrant and independent man now had to rely on others for his basic needs.
What we didn’t realize is that it also meant that our lives would be changed. The one who took care of everyone else now needed to be taken care of. Without hesitation, he was immediately added to the many calendars that we manage and alerts were added to remind us of his various needs. This on the job training didn’t prepare us for the mental affects that come with being a caregiver. It’s overwhelming but can be managed.
If you are new to being a caregiver, I hope you find these tips below helpful. There are also great resources available in AARPs Family Caregiver Action Kit which can be found at https://millenialcaregivers.org/RESOURCES
Ask for Help- Don’t try to do this alone
Join a support group
Make self-care a priority
Inform employers and/or teachers of any pertinent changes.
Utilize available resources
Find a professional that can give you a break as needed.
This role is not often talked about and it’s important to start the conversation.