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, such as giving grandchildren a sense of security and keeping the family together. Yet, it can also bring many 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 age 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 know.
· If possible, encourage contact with parents. Don’t get caught in the middle.
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 helps navigate one of life’s challenging but most rewarding jobs. 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. Although 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, 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.