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The Surprising Caregiver: Your Grandchild

Young adults — even children — are helping with care

More grandchild caregivers are coming

Consider that people age 85-plus are the fastest growing segment (PDF) of the population, with their number expected to increase by about 50 percent by 2030 and triple by 2050, when there will be an estimated 19 million "oldest old."

Caregivers like Megan Gavin, 31, of Farmington, Conn., a Ph.D. candidate caring for her 102-year-old grandfather, will become more common. Gavin spends two weekends a month with John H. Rees, who cannot be left alone because of his frailty. But the family also cannot afford paid around-the-clock care. So Gavin, her mother and her aunt care for Rees.

While Gavin doesn't relish spending Saturday nights watching Suze Orman with her grandfather when she could be out with her peers, she feels blessed to be able to give back to a grandparent.

"This experience has given me so many ideas, like a 'care house' where my mother and her friends will live and my friends and I will pool our resources," says Gavin. "Our parents are going to need more care and assistance than we as a nation recognize."

You may also like: How to get paid for being a family caregiver. >>

Cynthia Ramnarace writes about health and families. She lives in Rockaway Beach, N.Y.

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