The Balancing Act of a Caretaker

I grew up in a multigenerational home, as is the cultural norm with many Hispanic/Latino families. My grandparents built their home when they migrated to the U.S. from Puerto Rico and as a wedding gift to my aunt, they gifted her half the land. Our 2 houses faced each other and my brothers, cousins, and I would play in the shared yard. In my family and many others, caring for the older generations is seen as a way to honor them.

For homes with multiple generations, adult children who are parents themselves are labeled as the sandwich generation caregiver. As I got older, I saw the shift with my mother caring for my brothers and me, our grandma, and our home, all while focusing on her career. Caring for my grandmother was a family effort and a labor of love.

Most of us will probably find ourselves in the position of a family caregiver at some point in our lives. But as women typically assume the home and care roles in most family settings, the stress of navigating this new life falls mostly on our shoulders.

Elder care and child care are both expensive with elder care specifically being a really complicated process to navigate. It’s no secret that these services are left for families to figure out since there isn’t enough social support. And what seems to be left out from the conversation is the negative impact on the caregiver’s mental health and the lack of attention they may receive.

Author Angela Garbes writes in detail about the unpaid labor of women in the US in her book Essential Labor; Mothering as Social Change. “In America, we don’t have a social safety net; we have mothers and we have women” Garbes states, calling out the severe underfunding or complete lack of programs that would alleviate the caretaker burden.

Caregivers morph between being home aides, chefs, advocates, drivers, and much more.
Becoming a caretaker requires time and a lot of the time means sacrificing your own personal needs. It was noted that 22% of caregivers report their own health has decreased after becoming a caretaker.

In our most recent midterm election, we saw a breakthrough for caretakers in New Mexico. In what will hopefully be a trend of overwhelming bipartisan support for families, New Mexico voted to make pre-K a constitutional right.

And while this is a major success, our hope is that there is a push to open more funding and provide more support that alleviates caregiver burden. There’s a lot more to be done.

November is National Family Caregivers Month, a time to address these issues caregivers face and to rally for support. If you know someone in need of caregiver support, check out the links below – or drop me a note at!

At Leapcure our staff has diverse personal experiences with being a caretaker or a patient. Check out some of our blogs to hear our stories:

Resources for Family Caregivers:

Administration for Community Living
Caregiver Action Network
Patient Advocate Foundation

Additional Sources:

National Family Caregivers Month 2022 | ACL Administration for Community Living.

National Family Caregivers Month: November 2022

A Proclamation on National Family Caregivers Month, 2022 | The White House

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