Millennials are emerging as the next generation of family caregivers in California. An estimated 10 million millennials - or roughly 1 in 4 caregivers - are responsible for at least partial care of a parent or grandparent with a serious health condition. As the baby boomer generation rapidly ages across California, millennials will increasingly take on a larger share of overall caregiving responsibilities. If you are a part of this millennial caregiver community of Californians, here’s what you need to know.
Millennial Caregivers: A Growing Community
Due to many baby boomers waiting to have children until later in life coupled with a greater number of them being single than generations before (meaning there is no spouse to handle care), millennials are finding themselves in a caregiver role sooner on average than previous generations.
We don’t often picture young adults as caregivers, but for millions of millennials across the United States, this is the reality. They often juggle significant caregiving responsibilities in combination or competition with more typical life stage behaviors (like starting a family or building a career).
How the Role of Caregiver Impacts the Young
Here are some of the common things millennial caregivers have to say about their experience as a caregiver. If this is a new role you’ve found yourself in, these may feel familiar:
It’s hard to relate to others in your peer group. Providing hands-on care for a loved one is something that requires a lot out of you. More than just time, millennials report feeling a disconnect from peers who don’t seem to understand them or their new priorities. It’s difficult to find time for socializing between care, work and the rest of their responsibilities, which isn’t always easy to explain to peers.
You feel grateful to have time with the loved one. Millennials report gratitude for the extra time with their family member. Taking care of a loved one creates opportunities for time together that otherwise wouldn’t exist.
You feel isolated, stressed, and/or overwhelmed. For many, it felt like an unexpected and relatively quick role reversal (from cared for to caregiver). Juggling the tasks of caregiving along with full-time jobs and starting families at this stage of life is a lot to handle. It’s no surprise then that 80 percent of young caregivers report stress. Depression and burnout are common manifestations of stress that can linger long after a loved one is gone.
You’re more likely to be open to help. Millennials are more likely than the generations of caregivers before them to ask for help or turn to self-care to get through the difficulties. We have an article linked here about caregiver self-care tips.
Identifying as a Caregiver
Caregivers come from all age groups, cultures, and backgrounds. Arguably one of the most important things millennial caregivers should understand is your legal title as a “family caregiver.” Understanding and adopting this title will be the best avenue for finding help.
Click here to find out more about how CRC OC can support you in your role as a caregiver. Our Center works throughout Orange County to serve hundreds of families and caregivers of adults affected by chronic health and cognitive conditions.