Saturday, October 30, 2010

Youth Caregivers

If you are under 21 and caring for a family member or friend with health needs, you are not alone. It can be hard work. It may cause you to miss school, social events, sleep and may even make it hard to maintain friendships.

You are not alone. There are millions of kids all over the world being a caregiver.

Other kids like you help family members take medication, get dressed, go to the bathroom, do the shopping, make meals, and stay at home to help out.

Understand there are resources out there to help. Places to look:
• the hospital or clinic where you family member goes for care
• your local church or place of worship
• school counselor
• a trusted adult
• health organizations like the American Cancer Society, Diabetes Association or Alzheimer’s Association. Use this link to find a chapter of an organization where you live.
• your local library

Taking care of someone is stressful. Follow these tips to take care of yourself
Learn about the health condition your family member is living with
• Stay in school, study as much as you can, ask for help
• Be aware of the signs of stress- Very tired; sleeping more than usual; easily crying; eating less; feeling sad; not enjoying life; panic attacks; resenting family members or friends; stomach problems
• Reduce stress
- Get 8 hours of sleep a night
- Eat a well rounded diet, stay away from junk food, eat breakfast
- Listen to music
- Exercise use the gym at school, walk, run, play
- Talk to someone, such as a parent, friend, an adult you trust
- Remember that your best is more than good enough, so relax
- Breathe!
- Join a support group
- Make time to do something you like
- Get help if you need it
• Read Treasure Talk: The Caregiving Youth Project Newsletter, which can also be e-mailed directly to you
• Keep a journal and write about your feelings.
• A fun way to learn more ways to caring for your body and mind is the BAM website
• Take a pass on the alcohol and drugs. They only make more problems.

Help is often just a phone call or e-mail away. Ask for it

American Association of Caregiving Youth

Camp Building Bridges

Caregiving Youth Project

Treasure Talk: Newsletter for Caregiving Youth

Caregiver Resources


  1. Thank you for shining light on the population of youth caregivers and for offering them your support. A growing population in the US, caregiving youth are often left feeling isolated, alone, overwhelmed and anxious. I hope that this blog entry will reach a large number of them.

    Through my work with the American Association of Caregiving Youth's Caregiving Youth Project in Florida, I have the ability to reach hundreds of youth caregivers. I will absolutely share this with them.

    Society must begin to recognize the existence and the unique needs of this population. Many caregiving youth are forced to deal with developmentally inappropriate stressors and tasks. Without support, they are at risk of becoming depressed, anxious, or chronically ill themselves.

    Youth caregivers need support in order to reach their academic and social potential. They need help to gain the courage it takes to be a caregiving youth and make choices that will lead them to live happy, healthy, and fulfilling lives.

    At AACY, we hear from adult former youth caregivers who describe their struggles to manage the lasting effects of youth caregiving. Each day they must sift through reside left from not only having this experience but from having to experience it alone.

  2. Christine:

    Thank you for your comments. I was very impressed with what you are doing in Florida. I have been talking to the schools in my area about networking our youth caregivers. Working in AIDS, I saw a lot of unmet need. We eventually started a "Kid's Camp," just so they had a place to be kids.

    The more light we can shine on this situation the better.