Grandparents Raising Grandchildren: Facts, Figures and Resources


The word “intergenerational” often conjures images of harmony, but there can be a harder side to to “intergenerational” as well. Bridges Together has a desire to shed light on the issue of grandparents raising grandkids, and some of Andrea’s recent work addresses this topic.

This year Andrea had the privilege to be a fellow in Leadership MetroWest’s Leadership Academy. This year-long program has four components and objectives: 1) networking with other leaders from business, tax-exempt organizations, municipalities and others, 2) touring local communities and speaking with leaders and to understand the different entities that make a community “work”, 3) reading and discussing a book on positive leadership and 4) as a class, designing and carrying out a community service project.

Andrea’s class decided to raise awareness about the opioid epidemic through a social media campaign. Each Academy Fellow had to find information on some aspect of the epidemic. Given Andrea’s background, she focused on older adults. Below is some of the information she provided. (You can follow Leadership MetroWest on Facebook here.)

Grandparents rise to the occasion:  Help is available for grandparents raising grandchildren.

According to the office of Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan:  Approximately 34,000 grandparents in Massachusetts are raising grandchildren. According to a survey conducted by the Commission on the Status of Grandparents Raising Children, 80 percent of these cases are because of opioid use or the opioid-related death of a son or daughter.

Grandparents can learn more, find resources, have questions answered and connect with other grandparents and experts through the Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Commission.

Grandparents: Help Protect Your Grandchildren from Opioid Abuse.

The Grandparent Program from the office of Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan provides an essential understanding of the opioid epidemic, educating seniors on the origin of the problem and how it has intensified over time. The program also provides seniors with tips on how to identify signs of a substance use disorder in the family, recognizing that children and grandchildren may not only be in need of help, but may also be stealing from seniors to support an addiction. In addition, the program educates seniors on how to safeguard medication from theft and how to properly dispose of unused or expired medication. More information about this presentation can be found here.

Some tips for seniors include:

  1. Monitor Medication
  • Count your pills when you return from the pharmacy.
  • Re-count them each week.
  • Make sure that the pills (when inventorying them and before you take them) reflect what is described on the information sheet provided by the pharmacist (color, shape, size, the numbers imprinted on both sides of the pill).
  • If the medication is something you’re not currently taking, it should not be in your house.
  • In other words, if it’s not an active prescription listed on your File of Life, you should get rid of it.

2. Proper Storage

  • Avoid obvious places: windowsills, medicine cabinets, night stands.
  • Keep out of plain sight from others who may be in your home: family members, landlords, contractors, tradesmen, the cable man or someone else.
  • Find a convenient and easily accessible location for you.
  • If you’re downsizing and selling your home, consider putting your pill bottles in a zip-sealed, non-see through bag.

3. Safe Disposal

  • Do not throw out in the trash; do not flush down the toilet.
  • Bring them to a prescription Drop-Off Box

Take Note: Opioid Epidemic Affects Seniors, too!

“As the opioid epidemic attracts increasing attention, one affected population is glaringly absent from the discussion – seniors.” Did you know that as many as “26 percent of older adults misuse, abuse and are dependent on prescription medication”.   Learn more about how and why they become addicted plus some local resources in this newspaper article.

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