Young carers and family
People often don’t think about young people being carers, but it’s common after a family member’s stroke. Young carers provide physical, practical, emotional care. They may contribute to their family member’s care along with other family members, or they may be their primary carer.
Being a young carer is a juggling act, balancing commitments at home with school and work, social life, dating and relationships, as well as getting on with life in general. A UK study showed that many young carers show great commitment to their caring role even though it can compromise their ability to succeed in life and deprive them of the opportunities enjoyed by their peers.
Caring responsibilities can have long term consequences, and is where the need for support really comes in. Researchers in the UK study found that if young carers did go on to study or to work, they experienced feelings of guilt and worry. Some young people let opportunities go in order to continue focusing on caring. The research also documented the hugely complex business of leaving home with the confidence that care will be available in their absence.
Young carers have been described as a hidden and neglected group of carers, which makes it even more difficult for them to get the support they need. It’s important that health professionals involved in the stroke survivor’s care are made aware of the role a young carer is playing. Schools and universities should also know what’s happening at home.
If you are a young carer, support and connection with other young carers is available. You may not know any other young people with caring responsibilities, but making these connections can help. The normal range of carer resources and services, including carer payments, respite care and counselling services, are also available.
If you are a parent, relative and friend, you might find that children and young people affected by stroke in their family may find unexpected times to bring up how they are feeling. If you can, stop what you are doing and talk things through. The most important thing you can do is to listen and provide reassurance to a young carer.
They can be the main carer.
Or they might help others in the family.
It can be hard to be a young carer.
You have to balance things in your life.
Being a young carer can mean you miss out on things.
How some young carers feel
Many young carers feel guilty if they study or work.
Some young carers miss out on things in life.
They can also be worried about leaving the house.
Tell the doctors that you are a young carer.
They will make sure you get help.
This includes carer payments and respite care.
Make friends with other young carers.
It’s good to talk about things.
How young people in your family might act
Young people are affected by changes in the family.
They might talk to you about how they are feeling.
Stop what you are doing and talk to them.
The best thing you can do is listen.
Let them know you are there for them.