People providing unpaid support or care for adults with chronic or serious health conditions fill an important role, whether their involvement is financial, emotional or physical assistance with daily tasks like bathing or taking medication.

For years, this role was filled by predominately 45 to 60-year-old white women, but recent surveys reveal that the picture of a family caregiver in America is changing.

Now, one in four family caregivers is a member of the millennial generation, or people born between 1980 and 1996, and more than half of this group are non-white. They spend an average of 21 hours per week on caregiving duties.

The Ultimate Resource Guide for Millennials Caring for Mom or Dad 600

Challenges for Millennial Caregivers

Millennial caregivers face unique challenges due to their age, including lack of experience with serious illness, making serious healthcare decisions – and, probably most important, navigating finances. This group is more likely than other generations of caregivers to also work outside the home, on average 34.9 hours per week.

But, because they are more likely to be in the earlier phases of their career, more than half of millennial caregivers make less than $50,000 per year. Millennial caregivers spend on average 27% of this income on caregiving-related expenses, a higher portion than any other generation.

Nearly 54 percent have experienced more than one negative impact on their paid work as a result of their caregiving, which also makes this generation less likely to discuss their role with coworkers or supervisors. Read the full AARP report to learn more about millennial caregivers.

Combine this lower income with the likelihood for members of this generation to have student loans, and their financial outlook is bleak. However, even with these financial struggles, there are signs of progress. Unlike generations before them, millennial men are nearly as likely to provide care as women.

Resources for Millennial Caregivers

Especially for the youngest millennial caregivers, having the right resources and advice to turn to can be crucial in relieving the stress you may be feeling. Use these tips and resources to help ease into caring for a loved one.

Breathe. When you first find out that your loved one needs care, it’s important to remember to keep everything in perspective so you can avoid caregiver burnout, which is a real condition.

Do research to gain knowledge. Next, you’ll want to arm yourself with all the information you’ll need to best care for your loved one, including:

  • What insurance they have
  • Who their primary and specialty physicians are and contact information for their offices
  • What their primary and secondary diagnoses are
  • How their diagnoses may impact life, and how this will shape their caring needs from you
  • What their care plan is
  • What medications they are on and how you can be sure they’re taken correctly
  • Next steps in their care
  • What their wishes are for care, life-saving treatment and, if applicable, end-of-life care

Be firm when you’re acting as an advocate for your loved one. Depending on your loved one’s condition, you may act as their voice when they’re unable – and don’t let anyone intimidate you due to your age. Be firm with your questions, and continue asking follow-ups until you fully understand and get the answers you need. Take detailed notes so you can reference them over time since healthcare can be complicated and confusing to navigate.  

Be flexible as you adjust your life. At this point in life, you may be excited about buying your first home, getting married or starting a family – but if mom or dad needs to live with you, that can often change. Try to be flexible in adjusting your mindset to what you thought life might look like to what it is. Caring for a loved one is hard, but it’s an invaluable role in your family and society, and you should be proud of your efforts.  

Arm yourself with all the resources you can find. There are many resources for people caring for a loved one, from local resources like a church or community-based non-profit organization, to large, national resources. Research the following resources to see how they can help you as a caregiver:

  • The Family Caregiver Alliance website has many powerful resources for caregivers of all ages, including a state-by-state resource locator connecting caregivers to resources in their state, online support groups and subscription to an e-newsletter.
  • The National Council on Aging offers the Benefits Check Up website that helps identify benefits available at the national, state and local level.
  • Medicare’s PACE program helps families navigate in-home care options.
  • The Easterseals offer special programs across the country to disabled seniors, such as adult day services, in-home support and services, community mobility options, wellness programs and support for family caregivers.
  • The American Association of Caregiving Youth provides unique resources for the country’s youngest caregivers to help them balance care, education and their own wellbeing.
  • There are many resources for veteran caregivers, from VA Caregiver Support to the Elizabeth Dole Foundation. 

No matter which resource you choose, reach out for help. You don’t have to go through it alone. Call us at 1.866.KINDRED to speak with a Registered Nurse 24 hours a day, seven days a week about any healthcare questions you may have. We are here to listen, and we can help.

Share your experience caring for an older loved one in the comments below.  

By Blair Klayko