February 23, 2009

Child Caregivers

The "Sandwich Generation", those caught between their aging parents and young children, includes some 20 million Americans. But it seems that society has overlooked one other layer: child caregivers, those children caught between childhood and sick parents or grandparents.

In today's NYT article In Turnabout, Children Take Caregiver Role, NYT reporter Pam Belluck reveals the growing issue of child caregivers.

A 2005 nationwide study suggested that about 3 percent of households with children ages 8 to 18 included child caregivers. Experts say they expect the numbers to grow as chronically ill patients leave hospitals sooner and live longer, the recession compels patients to forgo paid help and veterans need home care.

The article is not only extremely interesting (as well as eye-opening), but the various comments left by readers are as well. I encourage all to take a moment to read the article and to browse through the Readers Comments.

In light of TEM's film The Sandwich Generation, which intimately captures how caregiving can take both a physical and mental toll on the caregivers AND the whole family, do you think child caregiving is a necessary and reasonable expectation or an inappropriate level of responsibility?