When we think about Caregiving at an early age, we often see individuals caring for their aging parents, children, or spouses. However, what if the caretaker is a youngster or adolescent?
According to a 2005 survey by the National Alliance for Caregiving, the United States had between 1.3 and 1.4 million careers aged 8 to 18. These children generally assist their parents or grandmother with clothing and eating, bathing and using the restroom, and a variety of other duties. Young careers might suffer mental tiredness and physical tiredness as a result of their work. Regrettably, their emotional, social, and physiological needs are often ignored.
Young careers may not get the help they need, mostly because others may be unaware that they are caring for someone. These young people must understand that it is OK to disclose their caregiver status to adults in their school or community. Furthermore, schools and communities should be aware of a child's or young adult's caregiver status.
Young caretakers are a worldwide phenomenon, not an American one. Taking care of others may be quite stressful. Young careers in Western Kenya deal with their circumstances by seeking social support, obtaining work, and developing a positive identity as careers. Young careers are also joining online networks in other regions of the globe, such as Australia. Their personal and social needs are addressed just by being able to relate to people in similar circumstances.
Social - a sense of isolation caused by a lack of time or energy to pursue friendship
Academic - dozing off in school or failing to do assigned homework
Psychological – anxiety, sadness, or behavioral difficulties
Self-care — disregarding personal requirements such as good nutrition, appropriate sleep, and emotional support
Young adult caregivers (ages 18 to 25) may also need assistance in these areas, but as legal adults, they have extra obligations, such as seeking medical treatment and making end-of-life choices. According to research, there are between 3.5 and 5.5 million young adult careers in the United States, and this number may be higher since the survey was done over a decade ago. Additionally, it is critical to promote awareness regarding this age group.
Schools must be aware when a kid is caring for someone, since this may affect their academic performance, conduct, and interpersonal interactions at school. If you are a teacher or administrator, or if you work in another capacity at a school, be aware of changes in behavior or if academic performance seems to be slipping when a kid generally does well. Inquire as to whether the student wants to discuss a family illness.
Schools and other groups that deal with children and young people, such as churches and community centers, may desire to develop support networks for students or link them to local and/or online resources. Among the organizations that offer resources for young caregivers are the following:
American Association of Caregiving Youth - "Caregiving Youth Project," which offers resources for young caregivers in schools, at home, and via other activities.