Joan Rutherford unexpectedly became the primary caretaker for her 10-year-old grandson Tai Williams. “My daughter contracted MS I think about four years ago,” she said. “As a result, I felt that I really needed to step up more for her.”
The U.S. Census Bureau’s 2016 American Community Survey showed that more than 2.5 million grandparents currently take on primary caretaker roles for their grandchildren nationwide. The same study revealed that 482,121 of them are living below the poverty income level.
Saving money is a real concern across socioeconomic lines, and Rutherford learned to cut costs in various ways. “The biggest thing was Metro,” she said. “70 cents round-trip in the middle of the day.” Rutherford and her grandson also cook at home and grow produce in her backyard.
The former schoolteacher also set a diversified schedule while her grandson is at school. She volunteers at a hospice home on Mondays and Thursdays, line dances on Tuesdays, has friends over on Wednesdays and shops on Fridays. Rutherford emphasized working self-care into a daily routine. “When I feel overwhelmed, I’m fortunate that I have a yard, and I go out and I do meditative walking,” she said. She recommended other grandparents do the same.