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.”
The global spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has led to a lot of questions about alternatives to nursing homes with everyone now being asked to “social distance” and what it means to be safe, or safely cared for, during a pandemic.
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