What about the Teenagers Who Are Family Caregivers?

Families come in all shapes and sizes.  Thus, it should be no surprise that family members who take care of a disabled or aging loved one could be just about “anyone,” too.

CNN recently honored a Florida woman who took up the cause of “caring for caregivers” in a very specific and somewhat sobering way:  she helps the young people who are caregivers.

Common images of “caregiving” typically involve a middle-aged woman caring for an aging parent or a spouse caring for an equally-as-old spouse who may have issues with dementia.  It is somewhat jolting to consider the number of teenagers that this Florida woman is assisting with learning how be competent, safe, and informed family caregivers – whether it is to a grandparent, parent or sibling.

Connie Siskowski, the CNN Honoree, works with the American Association of Caregiving Youth to educate and support young people who are faced with these overwhelming responsibilities and who defy most every  stereotype of American Youth that exist.

Ms. Siskowski is not distracted by the question of “if the children are the caregivers, then who is caring for them.”  She plows on at the reality of the immediate situation where two lives and perhaps an entire family is in need of information, training, and skills.  For long-term planning, however, it seems that mediators would be well positioned to assist in creating caregiving plans among the family’s stake-holders, though if the children are the ones doing the work, there may be no one to attend the mediation.

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