The Millennial generation, young adults currently aged 18 to 34 years old, are just finding their footing in life – obtaining their degrees, graduating from college, starting new careers. But now, they have a new responsibility: becoming caregivers to their aging parents and grandparents. An undertaking that used to lie solely on the shoulders of the Generation X adults is shifting and landing onto the shoulders of millennial adults.
When it comes to caregiving, the image of a typical caregiver was a 50-something woman who is feeding, bathing, and transporting her aging relative about while working a full-time job and caring for her own family, such as her spouse and children. In recent years, this image of the typical caregiver has transformed to reflect a 27-year-old Millennial, who is just beginning to navigate the rocky waters of early adulthood.
Why is the image of the typical caregiver shifting?
It was recorded in 2015 that an estimated 9.5 million Millennials were already providing caregiving help to an aging parent or grandparent, according to AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving. While Generation X continues to bury themselves in their work to support both their aging parents and millennial children are now stepping into the role as caregiver for the older adults, causing a caregiving generation shift.
While most Millennials continue to live at home with parents, more than a third of adults ages 21 to 45 rely on their parents for some kind of financial support. Whether this financial support is from a cell phone service, insurance, utilities, groceries or more, they’re depending more on parents because they often can’t find jobs in their career field, have mounting student debt and often lower paying salaries than their Gen X parents.
Caregiving stress on all generations
Even with the shift of burden onto the younger family members and off the shoulders of the Gen X, caregiving remains difficult for every generation involved. For Generation X, the responsibility of caregiving means supporting an aging parent emotionally and financially as well as their millennial children. This is a common stress factor for those in the “sandwich generation” – those providing care and financial support for both parents and children.
For Millennials, the burden of the generation shift comes while they are still navigating early adulthood. Many have recently graduated college and carry a mountain of student debt. Working toward settling into their career proves more difficult once they’ve found themselves relying on parents for financial support and supporting their grandparents (and sometimes aging parents, too) through caregiving duties.
Could Millennials be better-suited for caregiving?
Even with the shift of caregiving, some believe Millennials could be better-suited for caregiving. Because the generation grew up during the time technology was being introduced, most have a better grasp on navigating and using technology to the best of their advantage – something older generations don’t always feel confident doing. Their adaptation to technology has made them excellent at resource-finding and drives them toward efficiency and higher productivity.
In this sense, they may be able to help many elders avoid becoming targets and victims to fraud and scams.
At MIR Senior Management and Care Consultant, we understand the challenges you and your loved ones face. Even with the new caregiving generation shift, we are ready to help on many different levels. We’ve been providing excellence in care management to caregivers and their loved ones for nearly 15 years. Contact us today for more information about our services.