When we think of family caregivers, we might picture a Baby Boomer. That is, someone who would be between the ages of 55-73, approximately. While there are certainly many people providing family care, the increasingly larger demographic is millennials.
Who Is a Millennial?
People born between 1981 to 1996 are commonly considered “Millennials” or Generation Y, making them anywhere from 22 to 37 years of age today. Creating monikers for different generations isn’t just the stuff of marketing; the Pew Research Center explains: “Generational cohorts give researchers a tool to analyze changes in views over time. They can provide a way to understand how different formative experiences (such as world events and technological, economic and social shifts) interact with the life cycle and aging process to shape people’s views of the world.”
While the Baby Boomers have so far been the largest generation demographic with 76 million, the Millennials are in second place with 66 million (in between was Gen X with 55 million). This means that Millennials are the largest generation currently in the U.S. workforce. As more Baby Boomers retire, more Millennials replace them in the labor force, and in some instances, step in to provide care for family members who may not be considered seniors.
Who Is a Caregiver?
People tend not to self-identify as caregivers when they are helping a loved one. Yet that support is considered caregiving. The AARP Public Policy Institute describes caregiving like this: “Throughout the United States, family caregivers provide critical support to adults with a chronic, disabling, or otherwise serious health condition. Each year, about 40 million American adults provide support with basic functional (e.g., help with eating, bathing), household (e.g., meal preparation, help with shopping) and medical/nursing tasks to help individuals remain in their homes and communities for as long as possible.”
And, 1 in 4 of those 40 million caregivers is part of the Millennial generation. A 2019 AARP study, “Home Alone Revisited: Family Caregivers Providing Complex Care” notes that “40 percent of millennials and younger caregivers are supporting someone with a behavioral health condition.” Furthermore, these caregivers report that they are very stressed.
Get Help for the Help
Just because a caregiver is young, doesn’t mean that they don’t need help and support too. Caregivers may need training or just an extra pair of hands, depending on the needs of the person for whom they provide care. There are medical and non-medical care needs, which may lessen or grow over time.
The AARP Public Policy Institute noted in a 2018 study that, “A focus on this generation provides an opportunity to foresee the challenges that lie ahead in family caregiving.”