Young Caregivers make up 12-18% of the caregiving population yet are not often talked about in the media. Although many people don’t think of teens and millennials as caregivers, they are and have their own unique set of problems they face in addition to the enormous amount of challenges caregivers in general face. Here are some below:

1)    Delayed Planning for the Future

Taking care of another person, whether ill, elderly, or disabled, is emotionally and physically taxing. It easily becomes a 24/7 job- one that is often not recognizable by a Fortune 500 company. This is a catch-22 because your early twenties is the best time period to cement a stable career path, and to start choosing romantic partners, as well as whether or not to have children. However, young caregivers regularly find themselves putting off these crucial milestones due to lack of time, and demanding caregiving duties. This often leads to young caregivers having a delayed start for their own lives. They engage in a delicate balancing act between their role as a caregiver, and finding their role in society.

 

2)    Keeping Up with Schoolwork

Many young caregivers are in high school, and college (some- even in lower grade-levels) and have to deal arduous tests, papers, reports, projects and homework, in addition to their caregiving duties. It is often hard to carve in time to study. Many miss assignments, and take off days to school to take loved ones to doctor appointments. Some teachers/professors can be understanding of the situations, offering extended time for assignments with doctor notes. Others, might not be. The pressure and intensity can take a toll on young caregivers, pushing them back in their academics, and in severe cases lead to young caregivers to drop out.

 

3)    Loss of Friends/Social Life

Being a young caregiver can sometimes mean choosing between going to the late night movie screening with your friends, and making sure you are home on time to give your loved one his/her medication. Friends might not often understand, and the terms “flaky, and “missing out” might become part of their vocabulary. Because of this, young caregivers often miss out on the carefree nature associated with youth.

 

4)    Adapting to a New Way of Life

Young caregivers are more often than not navigating two worlds. They have to grow up faster than some would like and quickly learn new skills such as medical terminology, managing complex finances, and finding legal representation for both themselves and their loved one. Sometimes they do this with little to no guidance, and can get lost in the shuffle of their new role.

 

5)    Finding Time for Self-Care

For some, taking a break after long hours caring for another can be anxiety inducing. It means straying away from a set plan which may be jammed packed with chores including- managing medications, washing a bed pan, preparing weekly meals, etc. It can be difficult to choose and it can even cause the young caregiver to feel guilt. Self-care frequently becomes an afterthought or a young caregiver juggling too many activities at once. However, not taking time out for oneself can also cause a young caregiver to withdraw from his/her support system and isolate his or herself.

 

Caregiving is difficult at ALL ages, yet noting and being aware of these challenges can aid in the young caregiver’s struggle. It can help prevent burnout at an early age, and lead to a more balanced lifestyle for each member of our community.

Do you know a young caregiver who could use support? They can connect with other young caregivers in our young caregiver support groups (we have one group for high school students and one group for young adults) and find support on our community forums.

Written by Krystel Edwards
Krystel Edwards is a senior English-Creative Writing major at The City College of New York. In addition to interning at The Caregiver Space she is also an Edward Koch fellow which is a fellowship that focuses on public policy and advocacy. She is in the CCNY Honors program as well as the Publishing Certificate Program. Throughout the years, she has participated in a variety of student clubs such as Strive For College where she served as a mentor for low-income students. Currently, she is volunteering at Isabella Geriatric Center, community-based organization in Washington Heights that aids in providing a home, rehabilitation, and excellent care for the elderly. She looks forward to joining the 2015 Teach For America Corps after graduation and learning more about how to have a positive influence in low-income communities.

Related Articles

Sex and disability

Sex and disability

Scarleteen has a fantastic collection of articles on sex and disability. While I typically only share resources about care work or directed to the...

When I Have Dementia

When I Have Dementia

“I hope you’ll still laugh at my jokes when I have dementia,” I said to my husband Ryan on an evening walk not long after my thirty-fourth birthday....

Sizing Up the Decisions of Older Adults

Sizing Up the Decisions of Older Adults

Adult Protective Services agencies in every state receive reports of possible neglect, self-neglect, abuse or exploitation of older people and other...

Popular categories

Finances
Burnout
After Caregiving
Housing
Relationships
Finding Meaning
Planning
Dying
Finding Support
Work
Grief

Don't see what you're looking for? Search the library

Share your thoughts

3 Comments

  1. I say it speeds up adulthood. I was 12 when my mom was diagnosed with severe schizophrenia. My life ended that day. I lost my childhood because I had to take on the adult-role since my dad couldn’t.

    Being a caregiver means giving up on your dreams. I wanted to be a doctor but I couldn’t keep up with my science studies in university since I was caring for my ill parents.

    Being a caregiver means you give up a lot to ensure your loved one is cared for. But I’m sure most of us would make the same choice over again if presented with the option.

    Reply
    • Bless you for taking care of your folks.

      Reply
  2. I am a psychologist and a beginner writer. And now I have task to write my own opinion about a young caregivers. I totally agree with the author`s position. First of all young people should think about their personal life and relationships. It`s too difficult to find a time for self-care. I like to research this problem. I hope my essays about it will be highly popular in the nearest future.

    Reply

Share your thoughts and experiences

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Join our communities

Whenever you want to talk, there’s always someone up in one of our Facebook communities.

These private Facebook groups are a space for support and encouragement — or getting it off your chest.

Join our newsletter

Thoughts on care work from Cori, our director, that hit your inbox each Monday morning (more-or-less).

There are no grand solutions, but there are countless little ways to make our lives better.

Share your insights

Caregivers have wisdom and experience to share. Researchers, product developers, and members of the media are eager to understand the nature of care work and make a difference.

We have a group specifically to connect you so we can bring about change.

%d bloggers like this: