Michele's Blog

Senior Care - The Child Caregiver

By Michele Scott

We have all heard stories outlining the antipathies of children as caregivers. Family, friends, neighbors and co-workers share the challenges they faced when forced [as a child] to care for a chronically ill or elderly family member. Children as young as nine and ten years of age have found themselves caring for parents – missing school, extra-curricular activities, friends and a normal childhood. Culture, finances and traditions force children into lines of responsibility expounding; “…it’s just something you do, you take care of each other.”  With the elderly living longer and desiring to remain at home, with insurance restrictions on funding recuperative care, and the reduction in days of in-hospital inpatient care, in-home care is on the rise.

“Disability and illness can take many forms, from a sudden injury which forces changes in mobility to more insidious medical illnesses, alcoholism and drug abuse.” Children can find themselves caring for younger children, performing household chores and caring for ill and/or disabled family members – providing emotional, personal and hygiene care. Imagine a ten-year-old boy bathing his grandmother, or a twelve-year-old girl diapering her father.

Though situations and responses vary, psychologist report: “Despite the apparent acceptance of their ill-defined role, children demonstrate recognizable physical and emotional responses to their situation. Often the receiver is an adult placing the child in a precarious position. This can result in role conflicts within the child changing the dynamic in the parent-child relationships.” Child caregivers – although accepting of caregiver roles often marry early to avoid caregiving, engage in promiscuous behavior or turn to alcohol and drugs. Their grades drop, fatigue sets in, children in their age group are avoided – flight and escape behaviors are observed and childhoods become a thing of the past. In 2016 the New York Times reported; “In over a million American homes children as young as 8, 9 and 10 are partly or fully responsible for the welfare of adults or sibling they live with.” These children are often secretive and embarrassed - their patients suffering and unknowing.

Home Helpers can be a helping hand to children caregivers. We know and understand the lines of responsibility, the physical and mental strain and the many challenges confronting caregivers. Imagine your child heading off to school knowing you will be well cared for by a highly trained professional caregiver. Imagine your child sleeping through the night knowing your medication will be given, your hygiene and bathroom needs will be meet. Giving your child a couple hours a day or a couple days a week can be life changing. Let us help you give your child the childhood they deserve. We provide 24/7 monthly, weekly, daily and hourly care. Call us to learn more.