Why should we worry about bookend caregiving families?

By 2050, approximately 27 million Americans will require long-term care as a result of the “elder boom”. However, in states like North Carolina, the availability of family caregivers over 18 is declining while the number of older adults relying upon family caregiving is growing. As our communities explore the many promises and challenges of sandwich-generation households and grandparents raising grandchildren, the daily care and support that children and youth provide for aging adults is often hidden or misunderstood. These youth caregivers – young people under the age of 18 who support and care for family members with chronic illness, disability, or other health-related problems – provide essential care to aging adults, but they also receive care in return. We are interested in these kinds of reciprocal care between family members on the opposite ends of the elder boom.