Youth caregivers, a typically unrecognized and vulnerable population, provide care and assistance to ill, disabled, or aging individuals. In 2005, there were 1.3-1.4 million youth caregivers in the United States, and over one-third of these were caring for grandparents or great-grandparents. Despite their importance in contemporary family caregiving, caregivers under age 18 are excluded from federal and state programs that have been designed to both support caregivers and improve the care of aging adults. This project, therefore, seeks to understand the issues facing youth caregivers and the older adults they care for by discussing their priorities for enhancing well-being in intergenerational caregiving households.
Over the course of nine months, we will establish a patient-centered infrastructure of networks and resources in the Triangle region of North Carolina in partnership with the regional Area Agency on Aging, the American Association of Caregiving Youth, and other local community groups and service providers. Activities will include meeting with aging adults and their families to identify the modes of caregiving support that they rely on for stabilizing and improving youth caregiving outcomes; establishing a national stakeholder’s advisory group; and creating sustainable approaches to involving patients and caregivers through digital platforms and age-appropriate intergenerational organizing. The Tier I Pipeline to Proposal activities will allow us to identify research questions that are better reflections of the needs of caregiving youth and their older adult patients.