What is a young adult carer?
What’s a Young Adult Carer? Well, let’s break it down.
A young adult is someone aged 18 – 25. A carer is someone that provides care to a friend or family member due to their ill health, disability, mental health condition or because they misuse drugs or alcohol. A Young Adult Carer is someone who is both of these things.
Care can include practical tasks like cooking, housework and shopping, physical and personal care, organising things like money, appointments and prescriptions, looking after younger siblings or even interpreting and translation – for instance, if someone has a hearing or speech impairment or English is not their first language. Caring can also mean you provide emotional support – although this is often the most difficult part when caring for someone close to you.
I am a Young Adult Carer. I am 21 and I care for my parents. I have been a carer for my mother, who has mental health conditions, since I was five years old. More recently I have begun to care for my father, as he has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
My day typically begins by getting up early to make sure my little sister gets ready for school. When I’ve waved her off, I make sure mum and dad are awake, up and dressed. When I manage to get a moment, I get dressed myself! If I had my way, I’d live in pyjamas…
Once everyone is up and happy I leave for work. I love my job, however I do worry the whole time I’m there, thinking about my parents. If my mum is really low – quite often – I won’t go to work. Instead, I’ll do odd jobs around the house – washing, vacuuming and walking the dogs. Doing the dishes is the thing I always leave until I really can’t leave it any longer…
At 3.15pm my sister gets back from school and I’ll chat with her about her day while getting dinner ready. This is my favourite time of the day – I love cooking. My dad and sister of fussy eaters but I can usually find something to please everyone. We’ll all sit down as a family, talk about our day, and get everyone smiling. When we’re done we flip a coin to see who does the dishes. In the evening I watch the BBC news with dad and he’ll have a rant about current events.
Amongst all of these things, I am an emotional crutch for my parents – someone they can offload to and ask for advice. It can be hard sometimes, and it’s an almost constant worry which can leave you drained. Sometimes you feel like you can’t just stop, sit and think, even when you’d really like to – it’s not just a feeling of guilt, but also that you get so used to always being on alert it can be hard to switch off.
If you’re dealing with this kind of situation, there is support available – no matter how long you’ve been a carer. Get Connected can put you in touch with services near you as well as giving you completely non-judgmental emotional support. Take a look at the Get Help section now.
Carers Support Centre have been a big help to me, and I have also created my own support group for Young Adult Carers in Bristol & South Gloucestershire. Find us on Facebook.
This post was originally part of the Get Connected website. YouthNet and Get Connected merged to form The Mix in 2016.
Published on 13-Mar-2015
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