There are plenty of articles floating around decrying the lack of work ethic and responsibility demonstrated by some in the millennial generation. But don’t be too hasty to paint them all with the same broad branch. While it’s certainly true that there are members of this generation who have never actually made it out of Mom & Dad’s basement, the reason may be quite different than typically imagined.
A new report by AARP’s Public Policy Institute finds that of the 40 million unpaid family caregivers in the U.S., roughly a quarter are millennials. On average they each provide over 20 hours of care a week, including complex medical tasks often performed by nurses.
And to further dispel the laziness myth, three quarters of those millennial family caregivers are also holding a job at the same time, with two thirds bringing in over $30,000 annually. They’re also spending more of their personal income to maintain their care than any other generation. In fact, their caregiving-related expense to income ratio is a little more than double the average spend for baby boomers.
Perhaps more interestingly, this group of millennials is incredibly diverse. While the old picture of a family caregiver was a middle-aged white woman, that’s just not the case any longer. Millennial family caregivers are pretty evenly split on gender (47 percent are male) and age range within the generation. Additionally, less than half of them are actually white, with Hispanics representing 38 percent and African Americans falling just short of that number at 34 percent.
So What Does This Mean?
Millennials are stepping up in record numbers to take care of parents, grandparents, and other loved ones. And since this generation, raised in the age of the internet, handles things differently than their predecessors, they’re spurring change in the way caregiving is done.
The vast majority (89 percent) of millennial family caregivers spend time researching or reading about caregiving. Only 36 percent of them are actually getting this information from a healthcare professional directly, with the remainder largely finding their answers online. And 83 percent of them wish they could find more relevant and reliable information on topics like stress management and coping with caregiving challenges.
Since this generation is far more likely to turn to technology for help, a web of caregiving resources and helpful apps have sprung up to fill the need. If you think you could benefit from handy resources to help track meds and symptoms or coordinate with other family members to help get things done, check out our list of seven apps every family caregiver should have.
Millennials are also less likely to make do with the standard options of medical care that we’ve been using for decades. In the past, if a caregiver’s charge got sick or injured, it would usually mean a trip to the local urgent care clinic or emergency room. But today services like DispatchHealth allow caregivers to order healthcare delivery, offering a high-quality medical care in a setting that’s far more comfortable and convenient for everyone.
So the next time you see one of those articles decrying how self-absorbed this generation is, remember the millennial family caregivers out there. Their hard work, love for their charges, and willingness to find better solutions is leading to huge advances in the type of technology and services available for family caregivers of every generation.