Everyone’s caregiving journeys are different regardless of our age. However, being a young adult caregiver brings a unique set of challenges. Here are some aspects from my experiences as a young caregiver.

1) Am I doing this right?

During graduate school, I maintained pretty good grades. I was fairly confident in my abilities to achieve and get my degree. I was learning something I was really passionate about which made it that much easier to do well.

When you’re a caregiver, you don’t get handed back an exam grade that says A+ for really good caretaking. I really could have used an exam to measure my efforts during this time though. For me, I often wondered if I was doing enough. I chose to become a caregiver because I saw a need, like most in this role have seen. I wanted to make a difference in the lives of others in general through social work and chose to start at home.

My amazing, witty, beautiful grandmother was diagnosed late 2012 with Stage 4 Lung Cancer. My heart broke and my head spun. Head spinning breeds anxiety. My self-questioning looked a little something like:

What do I need to do? Should I talk to my boss about this? Should I go part-time? How can I comfort her best? Does she really want my help? Did I really just hear the word cancer?

It was in the moments of laughter and quiet times with my grandmother that I found the most peace. It was easier to push the insecurities away when she had good days, when we both had good days.

2) How do I balance?

True for all caregivers, and especially young adults, we are trying to find a sense of normalcy in the everyday. Our pace is fast and we’re driven to succeed in school/the workplace. Being a caregiver while trying to make your mark in life is not easy, to say the least.

I became a caregiver suddenly at the age of 24, the same time I started working my first full-time job. I remember feeling that I had two full-time jobs, both exhausting and difficult. There were many days of work I missed due to caretaking, which led me to have anxiety about my job security.

Many young caregivers are in school. Grades and attendance are often impacted hard. Luckily for me, my caregiving started when my college days were over. Whether its work or school, many young caregivers have irons in the fire already before their caregiving days begin. There were many days for me when something was sacrificed.

3) I’d like to get off this emotional rollercoaster now, please.

I could write a book, I tell you. (Perhaps I will in the future). I mentioned the anxiety fueled by insecurities and self-defeating thoughts. The emotions didn’t stop there. I often felt guilty for not being there for my grandmother as she needed because of work. Many days I sat in my office and bawled in sheer exhaustion and frustration. I was also very resentful toward family that I felt didn’t see a need to share the caretaking duties. I felt dumped on, and again, guilty for feeling this way. On the other hand, I sometimes wanted to be left alone.

Caregiving involves myriad emotions because you’re giving so much of yourself and don’t know what outcome this will bring. You’re taking a walk out on faith.

4) I’m learning about myself through this.

In all of the emotions and grief, I discovered some things about myself. I’m a tough cookie. I learned that even though I’m a young adult, I have a lot to offer the world. As a young adult caregiver, I have a lot of insight to offer the world about caregiving.

I gave a lot of myself to my grandmother, but the rewards were many. She gave me the ability to love with all of myself and to develop patience for others. I didn’t see it this way much during my caregiving. Now I see how great a blessing this experience was for my personal development.

 

 

 

 

Written by Brittany

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