Whether you’re just starting to take care of a grandparent, have been a caregiver for some time, or are seeking service to help them, the process can be difficult. However, taking care of a grandparent doesn’t need to be overly complex. It can be as easy as visiting with them or assisting in shopping.
Below we’ll outline tips for taking care of your grandparents.
- Visit Them Often
- Listen to Them
- Ensure They Have a Safe Home
- Encourage Light Physical Activity
- Help Them Stay Mentally Busy
- Assist in Shopping
- Find Help When You Need It
Grandchildren Becoming Caregivers
More and more grandchildren are becoming caregivers. Grandchildren raised by their grandparents are often the ones to care for them as they get older. Or perhaps you just live closer to your grandparents than other members of your family. Whatever the case, caregiving can be a daunting task, especially if you’ve never been a caregiver before, for someone young or old.
Where traditional caregivers of the elderly, direct children, would have many years of adult life experience and knowledge that would aid them in this pursuit, many younger caregivers do not. Depending on your circumstances, you may still be juggling work and school, while spending your free time taking care of your grandparents. Grandchildren have more difficulties to face when becoming caregivers for their grandparents. That said, it doesn’t mean it’s impossible or that it should be avoided.
The Importance of Caring for Grandparents
Taking care of a grandparent isn’t easy, but it’s important for many reasons. One of the most prominent reasons to care for your grandparent is love. As cheesy as this may sound, grandparents are what connect older generations to newer generations of the family. Not only that but you, yourself, can bond more with your grandparents.
Caring for your grandparents can teach you a lot about caregiving, including skills such as patience, compassion, and resourcefulness. At its most basic, caring for your grandparents is important if no one else can or is willing. Someone needs to do it. While it comes with it’s challenges, there are ways to improve and ease the burden of taking care of your grandparents.
Tips for Taking Care of Grandparents
Visit Them Often
If you aren’t living with your grandparents to take care of them around the clock, it’s important to visit them often. Whether you intend on visiting daily, weekly, or even monthly, it’s important to create a routine both for yourself and your grandparents. By visiting often you’ll create a specific time that you can work your other obligations around and your grandparents will know when you’ll be visiting.
Listen To Them
One of the most important ways to make your grandparents feel loved and cared for is to listen. Maybe you’ve heard the same story more than once or their worries are more trivial than your own life struggles, do your best to really listen.
How they speak or relate to you may be different than what you’re used to due to the age difference, but it’s best just to be respectful and compassionate no matter what they want to share.
Ensure They Have a Safe Home
While you may visit your grandparents often, that leaves much time where they are alone. This makes a safe space increasingly important. Ensure there are no exposed wires, dangerous stairs, or crumbling infrastructure. Not only do these hazards increase an unexpected accident, even if they notice the danger themselves, they likely won’t be able to fix the problem without your help.
Ensuring a safe home also means adding helpful tools around the house such as shower railings, stairlifts, or emergency alarms.
Encourage Light Physical Activity
Your grandparents may not be able to move around a lot, but light physical activity is important to keep them healthy and engaged. This could include walking to the mailbox, shopping together, or planting in the garden. If your grandparents aren’t quite that mobile, try encouraging some arm circles or leg swinging in their chair. However, be sure the level of physical activity isn’t too strenuous as this could increase the risk of injury.
Help Them Stay Mentally Busy
In addition to keeping their bodies active, it’s equally important to keep their minds active. There are many options for this, including books, puzzles, knitting, coloring, painting, and so much more. As long as the activity is engaging and requires participation on the part of your grandparents, it should improve their spirits and yours while making your time with them less burdensome.
Assist in Shopping
There are many facets to this tip for caring for your grandparents. Assisting in shopping can help whether they come with you to the store or you pick up and drop off what they need. Either way, it’s important to guide their dietary needs, whether it’s less sugar due to diabetes or avoiding fried foods due to a heart condition.
Assisting in shopping also means buying easy to eat and easy to prepare foods. This could be already chopped up vegetables, soup cups, or even online food delivery. Easy to prepare foods also saves you the time of prepping their meals.
Find Help When You Need It
There are many tips for the hands-on care of a grandparent, but likely the most important tip is to seek help when you need it. Don’t try to do everything yourself. You’ll get burned out, miss important judgment calls, and potentially put your grandparents in a dangerous situation. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you could ask another family member or friend to help you.
If that’s not an option or you need a more extensive respite for taking care of your grandparents, professional support is the most ideal option. JEVS offers everything from personal care like bathing, dressing, and toileting, to food shopping, light housekeeping, and other services to take some of the burden off your shoulders.
Challenges for Grandchildren Caring for Their Grandparents
Juggling School & / or Work
Traditional caregivers are often children, but when a grandchild steps up to be a caregiver, there are added challenges. One of these is juggling school and/or work with caring for your grandparents. School schedules are often burdensome in themselves and often don’t allow for much flexibility, work either.
These inflexible and busy schedules make planning time to visit and care for your grandparents especially important. However, if your schedule allows for a minimal amount of time to provide caregiving support, you should seek professional help. While you may not be personally helping your grandparents with their daily needs, providing that care is still taking responsibility for them and ensuring their safety and health.
This all said, grandchildren may have an opportunity to get paid to work as a family caregiver. Ideally, this makes balancing work a bit easier as providing care for your grandparents is your job.
In Pennsylvania, family members may receive compensation for providing care to their grandparents. The usual methods of getting paid as a family caregiver include through Medicaid waivers or by working for an in-home care agency like JEVS. Best of all, working through an agency means having access to training and other resources to make caring for your grandparents easier and more effective.
Maintaining Other Relationships
Whether you’re still in school, just graduated, or are a few years out, relationships are a big part of your life. From romantic relationships to friendships, cultivating meaningful relationships takes time. Prioritizing relationships often conflicts with caring for grandparents. This is especially true if you’re still in school or have a fulltime job as your free time will likely need to go to your caregiving duties. If you need help to balance your other relationships and your relationship with your grandparents, there’s options for you.
Options in Caring for Grandparents
In-home caregiving provides help with activities of daily living (ADL), not to be confused with home health services that provide professional medical services. ADL includes meal preparation, dressing, grooming, medication monitoring, light housekeeping, transportation, and more.
This option allows your grandparents to stay in the comfort of their own home while still getting the care they need and taking some or all of the burden off of you.
Another option for taking care of your grandparents is a caregiving facility. This includes many different types, including independent living communities, assisted living facilities, and residential care facilities. Each provides a different level of care that’s dependent on your grandparents’ capabilities and needs.
Finally, you can be the sole caregiver of your grandparents. This means you’re responsible for ADL, everything from grooming to grocery shopping, as well as maintaining a safe environment, monitoring medication, and more. While you may seek out respite, on a normal basis you are the sole provider of your grandparents’ needs.
How an In-Home Care Agency Helps
Being a caregiver is a big task and you don’t need to do it alone. An in-home care agency can provide daily tasks that keep your grandparents safe, healthy, and happy while you attend other obligations like school or work. An in-home care agency ensures your loved one is properly cared for in their own home, for the comfort of them and the relief of you. At JEVS, we offer a variety of caregiving options as well as benefits to continuing caring for your grandparents.