Give older caregivers a break

Published 7:16 am Thursday, July 10, 2003

By by Connie Nowlin
Managing Editor
There has been plenty written in recent years about the increasing number of grandparents who are serving as parents to their grandchildren.
There are countless numbers of articles and Web sites as to why this phenomenon is occurring. A few of the reasons are placed squarely on the AIDS epidemic and substance abuse or addiction. Parents in either situation can't care for their children.
There are additional reasons, such as death, divorce or a parent in jail. There are probably as many reasons as there are families who are part of the growing statistics. Some of those numbers may surprise readers:
5 percent of American families are grandparent/grandchild families.
4 million children live in a household headed by grandparents.
10 percent of all grandparents are raising grandchildren.
That is a lot of families.
There are also a huge number of families that waited to become families, or where people divorced and remarried, and had children with the second spouse. Many people are waiting to marry, preferring to start a career, or simply haven't found the right partner.
Others, while married, are gaining financial and career stability before having or adopting children.
These two groups, added together, probably touch the lives of every one of us.
Yet there is something that escapes me, and escapes others in these groups as well.
If there are so many people who are serving as parents when they are 40 and older, why is everything built for babies geared to young people?
Take, for example, the latches on a child safety restraint. It is difficult enough to install one in a car correctly, enough so that most police agencies have workshops and special training to teach correct installation. (There are several places to have your car safety seat evaluated. Please do so to ensure the safety of your little loved ones.)
But try to get one buckled, or unbuckled, with a child in it. The darn things are near impossible to manipulate and warnings are not to oil them.
Add to it the burden of bending into the back seat of the car, where most carriers are positioned, and incorporate a wriggling child. It becomes the perfect equation for frustration for anyone, much less someone coping with low energy and perhaps arthritis.
It is the same as the complaints of women for years that manufacturers refuse to create stylish, well-made clothing in average sizes, instead making everything over a size 10 look like it was made for Martha the Muu-Muu Mama.
It would seem, though that if diaper manufacturers are responsive enough to come up with fabric fasteners on their product, the companies that make other baby products could follow suit and make their products more user-friendly for this growing group of users. It would be to the advantage of the makers of cribs and strollers and high chairs and safety seats, since these older consumers have a larger chunk of disposable income of which to dispose, and they tend to vote with their dollars.

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