January was Alzheimers’ Awareness Month and on January 30th, we also recognized and raised awareness for Young Caregivers.
Many young carers, defined by Stats Canada as young people between the ages of 15-24, are helping their family members who are living with dementia. There are many carers who are much younger who also provide support and care to the family but are not part of the larger Stats Canada data collection.
Previous research highlights that on average, these young people are spending between 14-27 hours of care per week, the equivalent to a part- time job.
In 2012, in partnership with the Vanier Institute of the Family, we produced ‘Lucky, The Young Carer Rap’. Today, eight years later, the numbers of young carers has increased. There are now organizations dedicated to supporting these young people including Youngercaregivers.ca and St. Elizz and documentaries and films, such as Much Too Young.
Today we have more seniors aged 65 and other than children under 15 and tomorrow this number will continue to grow. With more seniors and less children, we will see more family members taking on these caregiving roles. While caregiving might be shared amongst family members, there are just fewer young people available.
I am not aware of many young people who choose to provide care to a parent or grandparent but there are many in this very situation.
January 30th was a day about bringing increased awareness of young caregivers. However, any day is a good day to talk to your families and your children about these young caregivers so they do not remain hidden and on their own.