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Life as a caregiving youth for me feels pretty normal. I’ve done it my whole life so its always been that way. I’ve never had to caregive as much as Nick Dent, discussed below, does every day of his life.
My dad’s cancer has long since gone into remission, but a long-term side effect called radiation-induced lumbosacral plexopathy (nerve damage) has meant that his ability to walk was severely affected. His legs are weak, and while he isn’t confined to a wheelchair, he uses walking sticks, ankle-foot orthotics, and patience to get around.
That leaves all physical household duties to mom and me. This is an inconvenience in our house, but these are also pretty mild care taking duties compared to being a caretaker to someone who is actively going through cancer therapy.
Caregiving teens are referenced in a few articles I’ve seen as a “hidden demographic.” It seems like they are a hidden demographic because they are burdened by the duties of caregiving, which can effect them financially, mentally, and physically, but these teens don’t make themselves known or publicly ask for help because they are caregiving out of devotion to their sick family member. They think theres nothing that can be done, but some organizations do actively help struggling caregivers. For one, support groups are very helpful for getting emotional support that is needed. Imagine how emotionally unstable teens are and now imagine that they’re a caretaker on top of that. They need support groups. In some of these groups caregiving teens can meet up with each other, like this one.
Below are some of the ways in which caregiving teens are disadvantaged.
“At 13 years old, Nickolaus Dent is his mother’s primary caregiver.
The Council on Aging, the Caregiver Assistance Network, and the Alzheimer’s Association are organizations that provide support groups. Also, one organization in particular focuses on helping the caregiving youth. The American Association of Caregiving Youth aims mainly to make sure that caregiving students don’t drop out of school. Their mission is “to increase awareness and provide support services for youth caregivers and their families by connecting them with healthcare, education and community resources.”
This is a noble organization that you should support and look into especially if you’re a caregiver.
“Mission of AACY – to increase awareness and provide support services for youth caregivers and their families by connecting them with Healthcare, education and community resources.”