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Young Caregivers: Why They Need & Deserve Support

By Dietrich Stroeh

It’s summer. School is out and students have lots of time to enjoy all the season has to offer. Right? That’s not the case for those kids who are family caregivers. In the world of caregiving, this population – between the ages of 8 and 18 - is growing in numbers. Although it’s difficult to put an exact figure to the number of young caregivers out there, even an estimated best guess is pretty staggering. A 2005 report indicated that the number is somewhere in the neighborhood of 1.8 million. Even though that was more than a decade ago, in all likelihood, experts suggest it is still probably somewhere between 1.8 and 2 million. The fact that it’s impossible to determine how many young caregivers there are should serve to illustrate just how silent this group really is. Children caregivers assume the rule of a caregiver, and have taken it upon themselves to become responsible for everything related to the person who is suddenly in their care. This is generally a parent, but it can also be an adult relative, or perhaps even an older sibling. Young caregivers are responsible for administering medication(s), preparing food, doing the laundry, translating medical visits, personal hygiene, making sure they are getting exercise (if possible) and sunlight, and much more. Although the range of responsibilities can vary from one young caregiver to the next, the changes to the life of a youth caregiver are generally quite profound. After all, the child is also still responsible for his or her own academic pursuits/demands. Many still to maintain a social life, although it’s been reported that having a life outside of their caregiver role is difficult. While he or she may receive help from other family members, there are many, many cases of that youngster being the sole caregiver. Fortunately, organizations do exist to offer assistance. For example, The American Association of Caregiving Youth (AACY) offers recognition and support to these young caregivers. The organization’s mission is to provide assistance establish a network of support for caregivers and their families alike. I hope that as we learn more about this population we will work to create more support systems for them. They deserve to have a chance to be kids whenever possible. To learn more about the association click here Click here to read the original article. J. Dietrich “Diet” Stroeh is an engineer by trade. His life turned upside down when he learned unexpectedly that his wife had Stage Four Pancreatic Cancer. He chronicles the caretaking journey he took and the loss he experienced in Three Months: A Caregiving Journey from Heartbreak to Healing (2012 FolkHeart Press paperback & Kindle). He has appeared on numerous radio shows and has also written two e-books: Being a Caregiver Isn’t Magic: It’s an Art and 13 Tips for Caregivers. For more information, visit

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