by Brigette Evans
A caregiving trend has emerged and grown in the last few decades that many
people aren’t even aware of. The number of children acting as caregivers to ailing
parents and aging grandparents has increased everywhere.
Kid caregivers in the U.S. are estimated at 1.4 million according to the American
Association of Caring Youth. The 2011 U.K Census says there are 250,000 kids
under 18 performing these duties, some as young as five years old.
The adults can be suffering from a variety of ailments such as Alzheimer’s disease,
dementia, arthritis, diabetes, heart, and lung or kidney disease.
These young caregivers are helping their family members with cooking, shopping,
meal preparation, household chores and personal tasks. They assist with mobility
issues, helping grandparents get out of bed and keeping their parents company.
Immigrant families’ teenagers may have a higher level of education and better
communication skills than their elders.
They can help translate their parent’s native language to English and help out
with medical and doctor’s appointments as well as the transportation to get them
there. The American Psychological Association says kids are “experiencing
parentification.” They have extremely high stress levels as they try to balance
school, caregiving and even sometimes outside jobs to earn money for the family
These youngsters lack social opportunities due to the large amount of
responsibilities they are shouldering. Building relationships with friends their own
age is a luxury they cannot participate in.
Many times their academic performance drops, they are truant or absent and
even drop out of school (22% of them), altogether to take care of a family
member who needs them at home. Tragedies such as fires being started by
accident as the child tries to cook for the family happen more often than in the
If you have a “kid caregiver” or know of one, don’t let them suffer in silence.
These kids can benefit from the following tips.
See if they can become part of a “caregiving team” that includes
adult family members.
Get some basic training of infection prevention and lifting
techniques to reduce injury to the caregiver
Don’t let them drop out of school. There are academic and
tutoring resources available through schools and religious
institutions among other places.
Seek financial assistance and respite care from non-profit groups.
Look into obtaining a medical alert system for emergency
situations. It can be a life saving device.
Lastly, have them participate in counseling and prepare
themselves for worsening situations or even death.
We may not be able to reverse the trend of needing our kids to be caregivers, but
at least we can equip them with knowledge and skill to lessen their stress levels
for their own health.
-- Brigette Evans
Since 2011, Puzzles To Remember’s Assistant Director, Hailey Richman, age 8, has been distributing puzzles to nursing facilities in the New York area. Hailey spends time doing the puzzles with nursing home residents. She always brightens their days.
If you have puzzles that you would like to donate, please contact us at PuzzlesToRemember@gmail.com and we will find a location near you where you can bring your puzzles. We can also provide you with a donation letter so that you can claim the value of your puzzles as a tax deduction.
To see a short video from WCVB Ch. 5 "BOSTON STRONG" about Max's efforts on behalf of Alzheimer's patients, click here.
Thursday, August 4, 2016
by Brigette Evans
Posted by Max Wallack at 9:03 AM