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When Grandparents Raise Grandkids

Many seniors are taking a second turn at parenting.

The U.S. Census Bureaus say that grandparents provide childcare for almost a quarter (23 percent) of children under the age of five. In nearly one-third of these households, grandparents are the primary caregivers.

Divorce, single-parent families, and financial hardships are just a few of the reasons why we see more grandparents stepping back into the roles of mother or father. This can be overwhelming for many older people and cause them to neglect their own personal and health needs.

Grandparents should recognize that maintaining their own health is critical. This means following through on doctor appointments, remembering to take prescription medications, getting plenty of rest, eating a healthy diet, and reaching out for help when necessary.

Talking with others who are in similar surrogate-parenting roles may be very helpful. It's a way to exchange ideas, vent frustrations, share information, and develop friendships.

Seeking support is also a way to learn information valuable to the entire family.

Resources include the child's pediatrician, teachers, and school counselors. Grandparents can also take advantage of parenting courses offered by hospitals, seniors' groups and charitable organizations.

Caring full-time for grandchildren can be challenging, but it can also help grandparents develop unique bonds with their grandchildren and strengthen relationships that can have a lasting impact on their grandchildren.