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Family Caregivers—Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

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by Nicole Long, MSW, LICSW

In today’s world, family structures continue to evolve. The number of grandparents raising grandchildren is on the rise. Raising grandchildren can have many rewards, including giving grandchildren a sense of security and keeping the family together. Yet, it can also bring challenges. No matter how much grandparents love their grandkids, taking them into their home requires many adjustments. Grandparents are once again responsible for daily activities, such as homework, meals, sports, financial commitments, and schedules.

As a nonprofit agency serving older adults and individuals with disabilities throughout Plymouth County and surrounding towns, Old Colony Elder Services (OCES) has a Family Caregiver Support Program (FCSP) designed to assist and support those who are providing care to older adults or people of any age who have a memory impairment—for example, an adult child caring for a parent. However, the FCSP also helps individuals aged 55 or older who are caregivers—in particular, grandparents raising grandchildren.

Support & Resources

When parents are unable to raise their children, grandparents are often the ones stepping up. The FCSP empowers grandparents by providing resources and support through OCES programs, as well as other resources in the community, to help with caregiving. OCES provides one-on-one support to each caregiver and creates a personalized plan outlining available resources appropriate to their caregiving situation. This may include help with respite, summer camperships, technology, and more.

Here are just a few supportive tips that the FCSP offers to grandparents raising grandchildren:

  • Acknowledge your feelings. In changing circumstances, you may experience feelings of guilt, anger, resentment or grief.
  • Take care of yourself. A healthy grandparent equals a healthy grandchild. Seek and attend support groups. Know you are not alone in this journey.
  • Grandchildren will have mixed feelings. Understand that their behavior may reflect what they are feeling (i.e., resentment, anger, etc.)
  • Create a stable environment. Routines are essential.
  • Encourage open and honest communication. Take time to talk with your grandchildren. Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know,” if you don’t.
  • If possible, encourage contact with parents. Don’t get caught in the middle.

Self-Care

Many people don’t realize that caregiving often takes a financial, emotional and physical toll on caregivers. The FCSP assists caregivers in developing a self-care plan. Resources range from caregiver support groups and educational workshops to programs that share techniques to help caregivers with stress reduction, time management, goal setting, problem-solving, relaxation and much more. OCES’ programs increase the possibility that family caregivers will be able to retain their health while caregiving

Learn more about how OCES’ FCSP can help you navigate one of life’s challenging, but most rewarding jobs. Visit www.ocesma.org or call 508-584-1561.

Celebrating Grandparents Day

National Grandparents Day is a special holiday to honor grandparents. It is celebrated on the first Sunday after Labor Day, which falls on September 13th this year. Social distancing measures during the COVID-19 pandemic may change how the day is celebrated for many grandparents and grandchildren who are unable to be together, but there are ways around it. Celebrate with a heartwarming telephone call, a video conference, or a “drive-by parade.” Consider other creative ways to honor grandparents and enjoy the day together while distanced.

About the Author

Nicole Long is the Chief Executive Officer of Old Colony Elder Services (OCES).  Founded in 1974, OCES is a private, non-profit organization proudly serving greater Plymouth County and surrounding communities. OCES is designated as one of 25 Aging Services Access Points (ASAPs) in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. OCES’ mission is to support the independence and dignity of older adults and individuals with disabilities by providing essential information and services that promote healthy and safe living. The agency offers a number of programs to serve older adults, individuals with disabilities, their families and caregivers. For more information call 508-584-1561 or visit www.ocesma.org

 

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