The ups and downs of looking after someone you care about

If you’re 25 or under and regularly help out a loved one with a health condition, you could be what’s called a ‘young carer’. Your friend or family member might have a physical or mental illness, disability or chronic condition, they may be frail, or they might misuse substances.

You may not think of yourself as a ‘young carer’, because you love this person and you want to help them as much as you can. While all young people help out a little around the house, young carers do a lot more than usual. It might mean you’ve taken on a bigger load of household chores, or you might help your loved one with important tasks such as taking their meds.

The upside

Being a young carer can be super rewarding because:

  • It feels good! Making life a little easier for someone you love is a sure-fire way to get a dose of the warm and fuzzies.

  • You get to develop a really special relationship with the person you help out.

  • You know how to adult. Being a young carer means you grow up quickly and learn valuable life skills along the way.

  • You’re probably less likely to have a total breakdown when the barista makes your latte with full cream milk even though you 100% asked for skim. Cause, like, perspective… y’know?

Can you care too much?

While being a young carer can be rewarding, it can also be exhausting and hard to manage. A few signs that it might be getting a bit too much are:

  • You notice changes in your emotional wellbeing, such as feelings of anger, resentment or guilt.

  • Your social life is taking a pretty big hit. You’ve started to feel isolated, and may even experience bullying or feel like you’re being judged.

  • You’ve hurt yourself! Being a carer can involve physical tasks such as helping someone out of bed or handling strong medications. These tasks can be dangerous and can lead to injuries.

  • With all those responsibilities, school or uni has moved to the very bottom of your priorities. You’re missing classes, struggling to find time to study, or you feel so tired you can’t concentrate in class.

Look out for yo’self

It’s important to look after yourself, as well as the person you’re helping out. This might seem hard when you have so many other things to think about. Luckily, we've put together a few tips on how to look out for numero uno while you're caring for someone else. Check them out here.

What can you do now?

  • See if you fit the description of a 'young carer' by looking at our checklist.

  • Find out what help resources are available to young carers.


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