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Being a young caregiver

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Are you a young caregiver?

Giving a bath to a sick father, providing emotional support to someone they are caring for, caring for a disabled brother: young caregivers have adult responsibilities that they often don’t dare talk about. Their real-life situation often goes unnoticed.

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Being a young caregiver

In 2012, a Statistics Canada survey estimated that 27% of young Canadians aged 15 to 29 provide care to a family member or friend dealing with a healthcare condition, physical disability or age-related limitations. Grandparents are the primary recipients of help from young caregivers, parents (27%), siblings or another family member (11%), and a friend or neighbour (14%).

The reality of young caregivers is little known and often unseen by their friends and family. Yet they take on adult responsibilities: a teenager bathes his sick father, another provides emotional support to a relative, a child looks after a disabled brother, a young girl is in charge of the family’s meals, a young teenager looks after a grandparent who is losing their autonomy.

Providing support to someone who is ill or has a disability has implications for young caregivers:

  • Their social life, the realization of their life plans, their dreams, their ambitions, their desires and their need to experience their youth or to start their first job are affected;
  • The family balance is disrupted;
  • They are likely to experience different forms of grief;
  • Sometimes, being a caregiver has beneficial effects: the feeling of being useful, self-awareness, maturity or the development of strong family ties.

Quebec society recognizes and validates the realities experienced by young caregivers. It wants to give them more visibility and support. Young caregivers are recognized by law, which means that mechanisms are being put in place to support and help young caregivers, such as the Réseau avant de craquer initiative supported by l'Appui pour les proches aidants.

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Do you find yourself in Penelope's words? What are the gestures and emotions that are also yours? Is this your reality? Are you one of the 1,500,000 caregivers in Quebec?

Testimonials from young caregivers

How do you feel about these statements by young caregivers? What do you have in common with them and what are the differences? And what would you say about your own background and experience? What do you want to express?

Questions and possible solutions

At the CLSC, I was told that I am a caregiver. Am I really a caregiver?

We suggest that you listen to the testimonies of the young caregivers presented above; it is often by hearing others speak that we understand our own situation. Do you recognize yourself? Find out more about what it means to be a caregiver and what it means to know you are a caregiver.

I'm in CEGEP and also taking care of my mother at the same time. I find it complicated and I'm worn out. Who can help me, who should I contact first?

Reconciling studies and caregiving is difficult. This could lead to difficulties in concentration, absenteeism or even abandoning your studies. Do you have enough support? Can you rely on those around you? You may need help at home. Our Caregiver Support counselors can help you take the first steps in requesting services. Contact them by chat, email or phone.

What does 'respite' mean and is it available to me?

These are services designed to free you from the responsibilities of being a young caregiver and to allow you to have time for yourself, leisure activities and to see your friends. There are services adapted to your needs.

My father is depressed. Am I his caregiver?

Like you, many young people are involved with a person with a mental disorder, whether it is a parent, a brother, a sister, a spouse or a friend. Sometimes unwilling caregivers, these young people tend not to identify themselves as such and rarely seek help. They often experience anxiety, stress, guilt or even stigmatization, and are more at risk of developing a mental healthcare problem themselves. The Réseau avant de craquer network, tools and 10 tips for helping someone with a mental disorder will be useful.

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Need to talk?

Contact our Caregiver Support Helpline for counselling, information and referrals.

Every day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Free of charge.

call  Caregiver info :  1 855 852-7784