The Impact Grandchildren Can Have in Senior Care
Eldercare is typically considered the responsibility of a spouse or adult child for many families across the United States. While more millennials are becoming primary caregivers, the increasing role of adult grandchildren in caring for elderly relatives is often overlooked.
But the relationship between a grandparent and grandchild is extremely strong and can have a huge impact on the overall care and quality of life for seniors.
Senior Home Care Tips for Grandchildren
Grandchildren of all ages – from toddlers to teenagers – can be an important part of a caregiver team. Here are a few suggestions for how grandchildren can assist with elder care at various ages and stages:
- Babies, infants, toddlers, and preschoolers
At first glance, it may seem there is no place for babies and infants in elder care. While children this young are unable to offer any direct caregiving support, there is still a role very young children can play.
The elderly are at high risk for social isolation. Bringing a young child along when you care for mom and dad can instill joy in your parents’ lives and help improve their social and emotional health.
Seniors who receive regular social interaction – including engagement with young children – show signs of better physical health, including healthier blood pressure, a decreased risk of disease, and delayed cognitive decline.
Watching or supervising a young grandchild can be an excellent diversion for grandparents who need some limited supervision but are otherwise able-bodied and sound of mind. Ask mom and dad to take care of the baby or play with your preschooler while you manage some of your parents' needs in the background, such as cooking meals for the week, cleaning the home, sorting medications, or paying bills.
- Grade-schoolers and pre-teens
- Teenagers and young adults
Children at this age can perform minor eldercare tasks. Grade-schoolers may be trusted to bring water to grandma or grandpa or fetch the TV remote or a pair of eyeglasses.
Pre-teens can take on some more responsibility, but it should still be limited to simpler chores such as wheeling grandma or grandpa around, helping put on jackets, shoes, or sweaters, and assisting with phone calls or computer needs.
Give your children time to bond with grandma and grandpa with more fun activities. Encourage them to exchange stories, watch movies, read books, and work on puzzles or play board games together.
Older grandchildren can begin to take on more caregiving responsibilities. Younger teenagers can be excellent sitters for grandparents who need minor non-medical assistance and supervision for short periods.
Having something specific to do together, such as watching a movie, playing board games, or reading to each other, also helps grandparent-sitting go smoothly. Spending time together as grandchild and grandparent can be an excellent bonding experience and give parents a well-deserved break.
As teenagers grow into young adults, they can take grandma or grandpa on a walk, keep them company on errands, or go out for a drive together. Older and more responsible grandchildren can escort their grandparents to a doctor’s appointment, help with medication reminders, and even assist with mobility, grooming, or toileting needs. Young adults—especially those whose parents are deceased—may also decide to hire professional in-home care support when needed for their grandparents.
Grandchildren Can Be an Asset in Senior Care
Grandchildren have the potential to be an asset, not a liability, in senior care. Their very presence can have a positive impact on your parent’s mental and physical health. When grandchildren become older, they can take on increased caregiving responsibilities and provide additional physical and emotional support.
And, if you need more caregiving assistance, consider a free care consultation to learn how Visiting Angels professional caregivers can help.