The Baby Boomer generation currently ranges in age from their mid-50s to mid-70s. As this population gets older, a growing number of Millennials (currently 25 to 40 years old) are assuming the role of caregiver for their parents or grandparents. In fact, an estimated 10 million Millennials in the US serve as the primary supporter for an aging loved one. This accounts for one in four family caregivers.
Common Struggles Millennial Caregivers FaceIf you have become a caregiver as a 20- or 30-something, you probably encounter certain challenges every day. The struggles listed here are not necessarily exclusive to Millennial caregivers. However, your journey may be somewhat unique because of where you’re at in life when caregiving becomes your responsibility.
- Navigating the healthcare system: HIPAA restrictions, insurance issues, and other aspects of our complex healthcare system make it difficult for young caregivers to advocate for their parents and grandparents.
- Finding emotional and mental health support: While caregiving can be incredibly fulfilling, it also comes with emotional and mental health struggles. Many resources assume the caregiver is an older Generation Xer, not a Millennial with a young family of their own. As a result, burnout and stress are prevalent among young family caregivers.
- Stalled career and delayed higher education: Millennials are more likely to still be in school or working toward career advancement because of their young age. If they suddenly become caregivers, this can lead to uncertainty about the future. Some Millennials feel pressured to delay their education or forego job promotions due to the new and challenging responsibility of being a family caregiver.
- Financial instability: College tuition has more than doubled since the 1980s. The oldest Millennials who graduated college around age 22 in 2003 averaged $16,000 in student debt ($22,000 in today’s money). But the youngest Millennials who finished school in 2018 averaged nearly $30,000 in loans upon graduation. Saddled with more debt and spending an average of 27 percent of their income on caregiving expenses, it’s no surprise that so many Millennial caregivers struggle to achieve financial stability.