Millennials are often stereotyped as entitled, self-involved and opportunistic. However, a new trend is quickly changing expectations of my generation.
Today, Baby Boomers and Generation Xers make up the majority of unpaid caregivers in the U.S. But more millennials are stepping into the role of caregiver for their older relatives. According to recent studies from AARP Public Policy Institute and the National Alliance for Caregiving, roughly a quarter of all American caregivers (about 10 million people) are between the ages of 18 to 34.
The average millennial caregiver is married, works 40 hours per week and makes a median income that is below the national average. In addition to jobs and other responsibilities, these people spend time to caring for family members, many of whom suffer from serious illnesses like cancer or Alzheimer's disease. Care taking goes beyond simple, basic tasks. Millennials who provide family care report spending an additional 20 hours per week on these duties. This takes a physical, mental and emotional toll and the time spent on caregiving essentially equates to a second job.
People between the ages of 18 and 34 often experience milestones like college or graduate school, beginning a career, marriage and starting a family. The millennials who donate so much of their valuable time makes me optimistic for the welfare of today's patients and hopeful for the future with these generous, bright young individuals leading the way.