<!–[CDATA[Most of us assume caregivers are primarily aging spouses and adult daughters. An increasingly common number of caregivers, however, are much younger. Estimates are that nearly 1.4 million children and teens between the ages of eight and eighteen are family caregivers.
American Association of Youth Caregiving Statistics
According to the American Association of Youth Caregiving, 72% of young caregivers are providing care for a parent or grandparent who lives with a chronic illness or a disease like Alzheimer’s.
An upcoming documentary titled Much Too Young follows young people who are caregivers for a loved one living with early onset Alzheimer’s disease. The film will highlight their struggles and the sadness they experience as they put their young lives on hold to care for their loved one. In some cases, it even includes dropping out of high school. According to research from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, 22% of high school drop-outs cited caregiving as the reason they were forced to leave school.
What You Can Do to Help a Young Caregiver
If a younger Indiana caregiver you know is having a difficult time juggling the demands of this role, there are steps you can take to help. They include:
- Research Options for Support: A young caregiver may not be aware of the resources for help that are available in their own community. Try to do some research on their behalf and create a list of options for them to consider. The Indiana Agency of Aging can help you connect with local resources. Those can include respite care in a senior living community, services from a home care agency, adult day services or a volunteer from a local church or synagogue.
- Stay Connected with the Caregiver: Isolation is a leading cause of depression among caregivers of any age, and especially Alzheimer’s caregivers. Make a special effort to stay in touch with the young caregiver and provide a friendly ear to listen to their struggles.
- Online Support Groups: Another step you can take to support a young caregiver is to help them connect with others who are experiencing similar challenges. The American Association of Caregiving Youth has online information you might find beneficial as does Caring.com and the Family Caregiving Alliance.
We hope this information helps you support the younger caregiver you know!