You’re not alone if you’ve suddenly found yourself raising your grandchildren. In the United States. three million older adults are primary caregivers t kids of all ages. Like any caregiver role, raising kids(especially young children) comes with many challenges, not the least of which is maintaining your health.
The care of little kids – feeding, bathing, dressing, soothing, entertaining, lifting, carrying, and chasing after them – requires youthful energy and strength. AS a grandparent you may be at a disadvantage, and not just because of age. Being older doesn’t just make you slower on the job. Weaker muscles and thinner bones that come with age increase your risk for muscle tears (from lifting children).
That’s in addition to the standard health risks of being anyone’s caregiver: you might not eat properly or exercise enough, you might forget to take your medications, and you might miss medical appointments.
Mental and Emotional challenges
Being a grandchild’s caregiver can also come with mental and emotional health risks. You may feel lonely or depressed because you’re isolated from friends or angry (and guilty about the anger) if you feel a little cheated out of the time you thought you’d have in retirement.
You may also feel stress or anxiety from the reasons that caused you to become a caregiver (such as a troubled grown child) or from working a full or part-time job on top of your caregiving duties.
Taking back control
- Go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day, which contributes to better sleep. If you have a night of child care duty, try to nap in the day with the child
- Make “play time” your exercise time.
- Stretch your arms and legs at the beginning and end of every day.
- Stay hydrated during the day to keep up your energy.
- When you’re carrying a child up or downstairs, hold on the railing to maintain balance.
- Talk your healthcare provider about being a caregiver to your grandchildren. That lets them know you have an increased risk for health problems.