“Research suggests that young people caring for a loved one with dementia provide a range of practical, emotional and social support. However, in common with many children and young people supporting individuals with other conditions, some do not identify as ‘young carers’ or feel comfortable with the label.” Young people caring for adults with dementia in England Report on National Children’s Bureau (NCB) survey findings 2016
My name is Rachael and I am a former young carer for my Nan, who passed away in 2001. This statement resonates with me as I did not realise I was a carer until after my Nan had passed away. I didn’t know what the term meant, so how could I have known I was a carer? Let alone, have asked for support from services that I desperately needed.
My behaviour changed and I felt really angry and down a lot of the time. I got into trouble a lot in school and was bullied, but no one stopped to wonder what might be behind my behaviour or ask me if I was ok. I felt unseen and unheard. I have a small family, my Mum and I mainly cared for my Nan but were not offered any support, which meant that we felt isolated. As a result of my caring experience and in trying to keep up with school along with a life outside of caring, my mental health suffered and it wasn’t until after my Nan passed away, when I was 21 that I started having counselling. Feeling totally lost as a young woman who didn’t really know who she was yet, I learnt how to express myself through art and found purpose in life beyond being a carer.
There isn’t an official number for the amount of young carers of people living with Dementia in the UK, but the aim for me in sharing my story, is to reach out and connect with other young carers. I hope to encourage them to share their stories to influence the changes needed for young carers, recognise the skills they have and feel confident enough to ask for help when they need it.