Looking after someone as a young carer or young adult carer can bring many rewards, but also many challenges. Not only does caring for someone affect your own life, but it may also affect and change the relationship you have with others and who you look after.
Looking after a partner
Looking after a partner can bring its own unique challenges. If you're a young adult carer, maybe the relationship is new and so looking after them is something you haven't done before, or maybe you've been looking after them since the start of your relationship.
Many carers speak about finding it hard to come to terms with the change in roles, despite the closeness looking after someone can bring. You may also feel a sense of loneliness if you have to take control of the finances, home and organising medical professionals if your partner is unable to. Remember no matter what you feel, your feelings are valid and taking time for yourself is incredibly important.
If you are finding things hard, you are not alone.
According to Carers UK research, almost half of carers say they’ve faced relationship difficulties because of their caring role.
Relate has some great advice around building strong relationships, dealing with conflict, money problems and more. They also offer free online chats with counselors, or over the phone.
You may also find it helpful to come along to one of our virtual YAC Cafes to talk to others in similar situations, have time for yourself, and feel supported and heard.
Looking after a parent
If you are looking after a parent, it may be something you have done for a long time, or something that is new to you and a bit of a change in typical parent/child roles.
Often carers say they feel like the bond between them and their parent has changed due to the stresses of looking after someone, arranging care, going to hospital appointments and more.
Looking after someone can mean we forget what life was like before the other person’s health changed. Reminiscing can help you remember what you love about the other person, so dig out old photo albums or listen to music you once enjoyed together. Why not try a hobby you can both enjoy together, like drawing or painting, or find activities or groups that allow both you and who you look after to come along.
If you're looking after a parent or someone else with Dementia, Alzheimer's Support has activities and groups that both you and who you look after can join in with.
Looking after a sibling
Many young carers or young adult carers often look after their siblings, which can bring its own set of challenges. It might be that you don't feel you receive as much attention from your parents or family than your siblings do, or maybe you don't have as much time alone with your parents or family.
No matter how you feel, it's important to talk to your family or loved ones about how you feel and discuss ways you can make changes.
Conflict with other family members or loved ones
If you're looking after someone, it might begin to affect other relationships around you. It may be that you have less time to spend with other family members, partners or with education or your job.
If you feel your relationships are suffering due to your caring role, remember to talk and be open with those people in your life. They may not know the true extent of what you're going through, or how they can help you.
Issues with siblings may also happen. Barry J. Jacobs, an American clinical psychologist says that sometimes “parents often have preferences for which child will be the primary caregiver, which may stir up resentments with siblings."
It can be helpful to agree to keep one another informed of any changes in your family member's condition or needs, or even schedule family 'meetings' to discuss what is going on so everyone is in the loop.