September 8, 2013
National Grandparents Day – Grandparents Contributing More Despite Numerous Challenges
By: Karen Thurston

Since 1978, when the first Sunday following Labor Day was designated “National Grandparents Day“, the number of grandparents in the U.S. has been growing from 40 million (1980) to 65 million (2011) to an estimated 80 million (2020). Over time the roles of grandparents, especially those among diverse elder populations, have also shifted. Grandparents are now providing important caregiving support, raising our children, and are the backbone of multi-generational families.

Present and former NAPCA staff members (L to R) Cora McDonnell, Danny Principe, and Wah Kwong.

Present and former NAPCA staff members (L to R) Cora McDonnell, Danny Principe, & Wah Kwong.

Grandparents living in multi-generational households often face numerous challenges. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 2.7 million grandparents are responsible for the basic needs of one or more grandchildren under the age of 18. Of these, 594,000 grandparents have incomes below the Federal Poverty Level. Over 500,000 grandparents are foreign-born, and over 400,000 do not speak English at home and have limited English proficiency.

Despite confronting economic, cultural, and domestic challenges, our grandparents have laid the foundations for our lives and our communities. For many diverse elder populations, however, the challenges of cultural, financial, and familial pressures can be difficult to manage and can be contributing factors for elder abuse. A two-part series published by New America Media tells the stories of Chinese immigrants who live with their adult children and experience abuse. These stories reinforce the importance of culturally and linguistically appropriate community organizations that can address the needs of our elders. In a recent survey of 97 AAPI-serving organizations, 81 of which were elder-serving organizations, NAPCA found that one in five of the responding organizations provide elder abuse prevention and domestic violence support programs. Culturally and linguistically appropriate services, such as these, are essential to the physical and mental well-being of our grandparents.

Let us be grateful every day for the contributions and sacrifices of our grandparents, and acknowledge those in the local community who directly serve the needs of our elders on a daily basis.

Happy National Grandparents Day!