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Grand Caregivers: Lessons Learned While Caring for Grandparents

With the increase in multi-generational families, grandchildren play a more prominent role in caring for grandma and grandpa

By Paul Wynn | September 15, 2023


Caregiving at All Ages 

How grandchildren care for grandparents varies considerably based on age and ability – and whether a parent is involved in caring for grandma and grandpa. Older grandchildren may serve as primary caregivers, sometimes forced to leave their jobs and postpone personal and professional ambitions. 

Activities can range from everyday tasks like cooking and taking them to doctor appointments to more strenuous duties such as bathing and feeding loved ones. Even younger grandchildren can play an essential role in caring for a grandparent. Their role is frequently less defined than young and older adults, but kids and teenagers can make ordinary tasks a critical part of overall care. 

“Getting an occasional glass of water for grandma is not necessarily a caregiving task, but if a grandchild is asked to provide grandma with water on an hourly basis so she doesn’t become dehydrated, then that becomes a caregiving job,” explains Siskowski. “Some grandchildren take on a lot of responsibility.” 

Caring for a grandparent often puts grandchildren in a challenging situation – resulting in role conflicts and potential changes in the dynamic of the grandchild-grandparent relationship. Younger grandchildren still in school can be affected in different ways through missed classes, handing in late homework, or not having time to do after-school activities. “