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FAMILIES of CAREGIVING YOUTH
Some children help look after someone in their family by:
* Staying in the house a lot to be there for them.
* Helping them to get up, get washed or get dressed.
* Doing lots of the household chores like shopping, cleaning, cooking . . . and maybe looking after younger brothers and sisters as well.
For many families, this seems like the only option – you may be a single parent family with no relatives living nearby, or a two parent family but one of you works long hours. If you feel that your children are taking on more of a caring role than you would like, there are two things you can do to help – click on the links to find out, or email us with a question.
“We’re working in the dark, trying to deal with our feelings, feeling guilty for relying on our children. You know they’re not responsible for you but they feel they are. You know they’re angry and there’s nowhere for them to go to before it develops. The anger festers until it gets too much and it explodes. You can hear the desperation with professionals - that they haven’t got the resources - but they’re so defensive. The door closes against you and you will never go and knock again. My doctor said to my child ‘Look after mummy, you’re the healthiest one in the family’. We need more than recognition. We need understanding.”
“Everyone always asks how I am. Ask about my child.” “Services should provide all the help at their disposal, to help children to be children and not have to grow up before their time by taking on an adult’s responsibility. They are children for such a short time and an adult forever.” West Sussex disabled parents and carers, November 2001
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Welcome to our website! We are glad you are here. Sickness and illness may cause families to have to help each other. In your family, you may help your parent, grandparent, brother or sister with things they have trouble doing for themselves, like dressing or feeding. This type of help is called "caregiving" and it is an important job within a family.
Growing up, going to school and making time for friends, homework and sports is the main focus of life for students your age. Caring for someone in your family may be natural and no big deal to you. But, as time goes on, the health situation in your family may grow more difficult and your responsibilities may affect your work at school or cause you to worry or be sad. This website hopes to support you during these times. You are not alone. Call our toll free number for help: 800-725-2512.
A family health situation impacts everyone in the family. You might have many questions about a disease, disability or health situation such as addiction or mental illness that is affecting your family. You will find information on these topics as well as other resources that can help you in your journey as a Caregiving Youth. Remember, YOU are important and we are here for YOU! Thank you for doing the important job of a caregiver within your family. YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!
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Parent, Grandparent, Brother, Sister, or RelativeCaregiver and receiver
Some young people look after one or both of their parents or grandparents. When there is a family health situation such as from an illness, disability or drug/alcohol problem, you might find that you are doing more to help with housework, cooking or looking after your brothers or sisters. You might even help your parent or grandparent with washing, dressing or going to the toilet. Children and young people who help look after someone with an illness or a disability are often called "caregiving youth" or "young caregivers" in the United States or "young carers" in England or Australia.
At AACY and with its affiliates, we use the term "caregiving youth" because the word "young" has so many different meanings in our society that it confuses some people.
It can feel good to help and be a caregiving youth, but there might be things that worry you or stress you out as well. If your responsibilities affects your work at school or causes you problems, even problems with your friends, you and your family might be able to get help so that you don't have to do as much.
A Caregiving Youth Project will help if there is one near you. You could ask a Teacher, a Guidance Counselor, a Social Worker, or your School Nurse to help you. If you are unsure about a particular illness or problem, you may find some help by looking through this section. We are adding to it all the time. Also you may like read the section, "Caregiving Youth Stories" to learn about how other caregiving youth made it through their situation.
You may also find some information and support by calling our toll free number, 800-725-2512.
If you feel that you have to do things to help you that you are not ok with, or you do not know how to do, an adult such as a Social Worker or your School Nurse needs to know - there are others in your community who might be able to do these things instead.
Read more about "How I Feel" here
Special Thanks to Rebecca and Brittney who allowed us to reproduce the posters they submited to the Young Carers Initiative, Niagra (YCIN) , poster contest. See them here.
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