22-Year-Old Grandson Decides to Become His Grandmother’s Caregiver After Refusing to Put Her in a Home
“Best decision I’ve ever made,” says Chris Punsalan.
At 29 years old, Chris Punsalan isn’t exactly living a typical, free-wheeling 20-something life. While other people his age are hanging out with friends, partying, traveling, or chasing their dreams, he’s at home — the primary caregiver for his 97-year-old grandmother.
He’s been taking care of his “Lola” for the past eight years. And while it’s not a path that many (or let’s face it, any) 20-somethings would choose, he wouldn’t change a thing.
How a 22-Year-Old Became the Full-Time Caregiver to His Grandma
In 2015, Chris and his family, who live in Nevada but are originally from the Philippines, were faced with the difficult decision of what to do with his aging grandmother. Bedridden and suffering from severe arthritis and osteoporosis, she could no longer take care of herself.
The family had two options: send her to an assisted care facility or hire a full-time caregiver.
In his final semester of college, Chris didn’t have any opportunities lined up after graduation. So, he decided who better to look after his beloved Lola than him? It was, after all, what she had done for him for years growing up.
“She took care of me and I would hate to see her go to homecare, which is where I feel most grandparents go in America. They go to home care because nobody is able to take care of them.”Chris Punsalan
Barely an adult himself, Chris became her full-time caregiver.
Anyone who has ever taken on the role of caregiver, even temporarily, knows it’s not an easy task. It’s extremely demanding, both physically and mentally. You are always putting the needs of someone else before your own.
Chris spends his days doing everything for his bedridden grandmother, who was once an elementary teacher for more than 20 years. From toileting and diapering to meal time and bath time, he even makes certain that she does daily affirmations and exercises for her hands.
Even Chris admits that it can be “extremely isolating.” But despite the challenges, he has no plans to stop.
The Unlikely Duo Go Viral
A digital content creator and musician, Chris is passionate about preserving memories and has been sharing his life online since 2014.
In 2019, he decided to give the world a glimpse into life as a caregiver. The short 57-second clip went insanely viral with over 6 MILLION VIEWS and he and Lola became overnight sensations.
Turns out, people really love tuning in and following along on their journey.Chris Punsalan
“I receive hundreds of messages daily from former, current, and future caregivers that tell me their stories and remind me that I am not alone on this journey.”
Inspired by the reaction his initial video received, Chris decided to keep going and now he regularly shares about their daily activities and heartwarming interactions. He also posts a lot of helpful tips for others who find themselves in similar caregiving situations.
And he doesn’t hold anything back. Not only does he share the obvious joy and incredible bond the two share but he’s very candid about the hard bits as well. Including bearing witness to his grandma’s failing body and her fight with dementia.
Chris didn’t just change his grandma’s life, he changed his own as well. And like his Lola, he doesn’t take anything for granted.
“My grandma is probably the most grateful person that I know. Anytime somebody helps her, anytime somebody hands her something, anytime something is happening with or to grandma, you can always guarantee a thank you at the end of it,” says Chris.
“I think that’s what makes her enjoy life so much is that she’s grateful for everything. She can’t move and she’s bound to her bed. But because she’s just extremely grateful for even the smallest things in life, it just makes her life more worth it.”
Cherish Your Loved Ones
While Chris may have discovered fame with his grandma, it’s the precious time they have to spend together that means the most to him.
He knows that the time they have together is finite and that for now, his life is best served serving her.
And that’s the biggest takeaway that Chris has learned over the years he’s spent caring for his lola.
“Cherish your grandparents and cherish your loved ones in general,” Chris says. “Life is so fragile. It’s such a cliche to tell your loved ones you love them because you don’t know the next time, you know, that you’re gonna get to see them or get to spend time with them.”
The reality is that if we’re lucky, the ones we love will grow old and so will we. And while not all of us are in a position to become full-time caregivers, we are all capable of cherishing and honoring our loved ones.
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