Kids as caregivers AACY is there to help the helpers BY CRISTY HOM J Keith assisting his mother (who is a grandmother raising grandkids) onathan’s grandmother has cared for him as long as he can remember, but now at age 15, he is caring for her. Lisa runs straight home from school to help her grandfather so her mother can go to work. With the increasing number of multigenerational households and grandparents raising grandchildren, more youth are assuming the role of caregiver when the health of their older family members declines. An estimated 1.4 million children of ages 8-18 in the U.S. are caring for disabled, ill or aging family members. They administer medications, help with feeding, provide personal care in the bathroom and 32 GRAND MAY JUNE 2011 Kadniel and his grandmother (AACY obtained an oxygen concentrator for her) manage household chores. These kids experience the same challenges as adult caregivers, yet they are not equipped to manage the resulting sadness and anxiety. It affects their social and academic lives. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation study “The Silent Epidemic” reported that among students who drop out of school for personal reasons, 22 percent do so to care for a family member. “My friends can’t relate to what I am going through,” states an 11th grader who is caring for her grandmother. “I feel so overwhelmed.” Share this article with your friends.