Showing posts with label grandparents and grandchildren. Show all posts
Showing posts with label grandparents and grandchildren. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Help for Retired Grandparents Raising Grandkids

Like millions of other couples in the U.S., the man and his wife who handle our taxes are also raising one of their granddaughters.  A widow in my book club raised two of her grandchildren until they finished college.  Several other retired people we know have raised their grandchildren for at least part of their childhood.  Unfortunately, this issue creates a number of problems for senior citizens, including where to live.

Journalist Leslie Stahl, from 60 Minutes, addressed some of the problems involved in raising grandchildren in her book Becoming Grandma: The Joys and Science of the New Grandparenting and in an article she wrote for the website Next Avenue called  "A Place to Live for Grandparents Raising Grandchildren."

Millions of Grandparents are Raising their Grandchildren

According to Ms. Stahl, there are almost 3,000,000 grandparents in the U.S. who have legal custody of some or all of their grandchildren.  Approximately 18 percent of these families live below the poverty line.  They face a number of issues, including where to live.

Limited Housing Options Make it Difficult for Grandparents

It is against federal law for children under the age of 18 to live with parents or grandparents in an age-restricted over-55 retirement community, a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) or other type of senior facility.  Children are also not allowed in low-income housing for the elderly or in senior apartment complexes.  As a result, grandparents who make the tough decision to raise their grandchildren are often forced to move, sometimes into situations which are not safe for them or their grandchildren and which are not well-designed for the elderly.

The sole exception to the lack of housing for grandparents who are raising their grandchildren is the Grandparent Family Apartment Complex which is located in the Bronx in New York.  The complex was build in 2004.  According to Leslie Stahl, it is the only complex of its type in the United States, although there is unquestionably a need across the country.  In addition to providing affordable housing, the complex offers different types of support to the grandparents and children, including transportation, legal services, mental health services, after school care, tutoring, support groups and parenting classes.  These programs at the Grandparent Family Apartment Complex seem to be making a significant difference in the lives of the children.  Their high school graduation rate exceeds that of the surrounding community.

Why Grandparents are Raising their Grandchildren

There are many reasons why grandparents feel compelled to take over the custody of their grandchildren.  The children's parents may have died in an auto accident or from diseases.  In some cases, the parents may not be equipped to properly take care of their children because of mental illness, abusiveness, addiction, or alcoholism.  In other situations, the parents may be deployed with the military or could be in jail. Sometimes the problem is a teen pregnancy and the grandparents decide to continue raising both their child and their grandchild.  Whatever the cause, grandparents who have already raised their own children often find themselves starting over again with their grandchildren.

Housing Solutions for Grandparents

While their options are limited, there are a few things grandparents can do to make the situation easier for both them and their grandchildren.

More affluent grandparents, of course, have more options about where to live.  They may be able to remain in the family home where they raised their own children or move into a similar community.  Younger grandparents who are still in good physical condition may be able to continue to hold down a job and raise their grandchildren.

Low-income grandparents also have a few resources available to them.  For example, they can apply to receive Section 8 housing vouchers or to move into low-income family apartments.

Financial Aid for Low-Income Grandparents

In some states, the grandparents may want to ask their Social Services department if they qualify to become legal foster parents for their grandchildren. They will have to go through an application process and background check, but it could be worth the effort.  If the grandparents are appointed foster parents, they will qualify for financial assistance which could make it easier for them to afford to provide their grandchildren with better care.  If a grandparent is living solely on Social Security, this additional financial assistance could be the only way they can afford to feed, clothe, house and care for their grandchildren.

The grandparents may also want to go to their local Social Services department to see if they qualify for SNAP (food stamps) or other types of public assistance.

If the grandparents are on Medicare, their grandchildren may also qualify for low-cost health insurance through Medicaid.  If the grandparents are still working when they become the legal guardians for their grandchildren, they may be able to add their grandchildren to the insurance coverage they get through their employer.

Other Considerations for Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

If you decide you are the best person in your family to raise your grandchildren, there are other issues you may want to consider when choosing a place to live:

School system - You may want to check a site like to decide which school would be the best for your grandchild. Once you pick a school, plan to get involved.  Join the PTA and take any of the parenting classes they offer.  You may believe you know everything you need to know, since you already raised a family.  However, connecting with other parents and learning a few new ideas could make life easier for both you and your grandchild.

Friends and Relatives - We all need someone to back us up once in a while.  You may want to move close to other relatives or friends who would be able to babysit occasionally or even step in and take care of the children for a few days or weeks if you need to go into the hospital or just come down with the flu.

Other Support Systems - Consider becoming involved in a neighborhood church, synagogue, mosque or temple.  Most of them will have youth activities which can provide a positive environment for your grandchildren.  You may also investigate other neighborhood support systems such as after-school programs, pre-schools, sports teams, Scouts, Big Brothers or Sisters, and the YMCA. Welcome all the help you can get while raising a grandchild.

Medical care - Seek out a caring family doctor or pediatrician, as well as a dentist. These medical caregivers can help you keep your grandchildren healthy.

Preparing for retirement is complicated enough if you only have to worry about yourself.  If you are also caring for grandchildren, it becomes even more complex.  Make sure you take advantage of all the help you can get.

Looking for help in planning your own retirement?  Watch for my book, Retirement Awareness, which is scheduled to be released by Griffin Publishing in 2018.

Want more information on where to retire, common health issues, financial planning, Social Security, Medicare and more? Use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of other articles.

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Sunday, September 8, 2013

Spending Time With the Grandkids

One of the joys of getting older is being able to spend time with your grandchildren.  I drive two of mine to their elementary and middle schools almost every morning during the school year.  The few minutes it takes us to drive from their home to their schools is one of the highlights of my day.  It is always fun to hear about their activities, the books they are reading, their friends, and the tests they are dreading.  If they have a late start day, we might stop at a Starbucks for a hot chocolate before school.  I love the time we spend together in the mornings.

Another granddaughter goes to a college about a one hour drive from our home.  Occasionally she will ask if she can get away from school and spend a night at our house.  This is another wonderful way to spend unstructured time with one of our grandkids.  We usually have dinner together and watch some fun movies on TV.   On several occasions, she has baked us cookies or made similar treats during her visit.

The key to spending quality time with grandkids is to be prepared with some fun ways to entertain them, while remaining spontaneous and flexible.  You'll want to have some supplies on hand to keep the kids busy, even though you may only use these items occasionally.

Preschool Grandkids

Coloring books
Construction paper
Simple games
Board books
Snack foods

Elementary Age Children

Craft kits for jewelry making or building things
Watercolors and paper
Jigsaw puzzles
Frisbees and balls
Snack foods

High School and Older Children

Video Games and a Game Player
An assortment of DVD's of fun movies (horror films are often a hit)
Snack foods

Ideas for All Ages

You'll notice that snack foods are on all the lists!  In addition, whenever we see a fun movie on TV that we think some of our grandkids might enjoy, we record it on our DVR.  We especially watch for movies or TV shows that they might not have been able to see.  The latest hit with the grandkids has been the TV movie from the SyFy channel called "Sharknado."  It's totally ridiculous.  However, since we live in Southern California, both our elementary age and our college age grandkids have loved watching all the local landmarks get demolished by sharks!

For more ideas, the newspaper for our retirement community frequently prints out a list of upcoming events and local attractions, along with their prices and hours, so we have ideas of fun places where we can take the grandkids.  Even if your local newspaper doesn't do this, you may want to put together your own list of local places that your grandchildren might enjoy.  Look up the basic information and put it on your list so you are prepared to go on the spur of the moment.  Some items you may want to include:

The nearest zoo
Science centers
Amusement parks
Water parks
Restaurants with discounts for kids
Discount or dollar movie theaters
Beaches, parks and playgrounds
Swimming pools

With plenty of activities to entertain the grandkids both in your home and in your community, you will never run out of fun ways to keep them happy and busy ... and wanting to come back!

Whether you are currently retired or planning to retire soon, you may also want to check out the articles listed in the five index articles shown below:

Gifts, Travel and Family Relationships

Great Places for Boomers to Retire Overseas

Great Places to Retire in the United States

Health and Medical Topics for Baby Boomers

Money and Financial Planning for Retirement

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