Young caregivers are defined as children and youth under the age of 25 who provide prolonged “adult-like” care for ill or disabled family members. We think of children as needing care but there are family dynamics that require them to provide care—this is a hidden generation.
What’s the big deal? you many ask. It’s huge! Young caregivers must delay planning for their future. The stress of schoolwork is paramount, maybe losing their academic successes. Social life is impacted when life should be swirling with friends and outings as young caregivers are adapting to a new (and often unexpected) way of life. Life many caregivers, making time for self-care is a juggling act, with chores, managing medications, providing ADL care (Activities of Daily Living including bathing, ambulation, toileting, transferring, eating, and dressing), meal preparations, etc. “My future, my desires, my plans…they all got sucked into a vacuum,” explained a young caregiver.
An article in the LA Times (Sunday, July 17, 2022) featured an article titled, “At 29, I wasn’t prepared to be a caregiver. Life had other plans,” by Jacquelyn Revere who began her caregiver journey for her mother and grandmother, both suffering from dementia. She writes: “But now I realize that only time could have taught me the lessons needed for being a caregiver.” So true. We don’t start in the middle but at the beginning and it’s always a work in progress. She ends with acknowledging that this is hard – it is – but adds that “there will always be another person who understands, and sometimes they’re just a short internet search away” or an email, or a text, or a phone call, or in a letter. Thank you, Peggy.
Life Lesson: “Caregiving isn’t mutually exclusive with adventure and exploration. Whether you try a crossword puzzle, crochet, a hike, or whatever else, the new challenge will renew your energy.”