Different Generations, Different Ideas About How To Care For Grandma

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Most people acknowledge that our gender, race and religion shape how we view life experiences. Our generation is just one additional way we are diverse—and it impacts the way we view healthcare, aging and caregiving. So even when a family has quite a bit in common, a family of different generations will frequently have different ideas about “what’s best.”

Sarah, an 87-year old, is depressed, has diabetes and limited mobility. Lately she’s been needing a lot of help: getting to doctor’s appointments, cooking meals, even taking a shower. What are the different generational perspectives on how to help Sarah?

  • Liz, Sarah’s 84-year old sister, thinks Sarah should move in with one of her daughters. After all, Liz had taken their mother into her home years ago when she could no longer live alone. This is common of the oldest generations who balk at the thought of “strangers” being involved in caregiving.
  • Sarah’s children Helena (67), Kathleen (64) and Pete (62) all want to give home care a try. While expensive, they don’t think Sarah living with one of them would work out so well. These Baby Boomers are willing to spend their money so they don’t have to handle direct caregiving, preferring to let the “experts” handle it.
  • Sarah’s 38-year old granddaughter Katie has heard that a family member could get paid to care for a loved one. Katie is willing to do this and wants to talk to an elder law attorney about this process. Katie, a member of Generation X, is still paying off her graduate school loans. She sees this idea as a great compromise—her grandmother would have a family caregiver and she could make some extra money.
  • 31-year old grandson Joey thinks that the family should firmly encourage Sarah talk to her doctor about her depression. He believes that once she addresses that, the physical health issues will be less of an issue. Joey’s perspective about dealing with mental health concerns head-on is common with Millennials.

None of these ideas are necessarily right or wrong. They are simply different ways of looking at caregiving based on generational perspectives. Whose view do you most identify with?

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