Former Young Carers Reflect on Their Caregiving Experience

Olga Szafran, Jacqueline Torti, Earle Waugh, Kimberley Duerksen, Olga Szafran
2016 Canadian Journal of Family and Youth   unpublished
Using focus group methodology, this study explored the experiences of young carers from the perspective of former young carers in Edmonton, Alberta. The study findings reveal that being a young carer has a significant impact on a young person's life that extends well into adulthood. Former young carers recalled being burdened with household responsibilities, as well as with providing direct care to a family member. They generally had negative school experiences that included being bullied and
more » ... being bullied and feeling that the system ignored their suffering. They felt physically and emotionally tired and stressed, lonely, and socially withdrawn. Despite their stresses, they wanted to keep their situation a secret, for fear of external interference into their family. While females recalled deriving some positive benefits from the young caregiving experience, males saw absolutely no benefits. As adults, they perceived that being a young care had affected their social development and the formation of personal relationships into adulthood. Young carers in Edmonton are a hidden and vulnerable population who appear to suffer in silence. The lack of societal recognition has impeded the development of support systems for young carers. He has published widely on topics of health and intercultural understanding. His recent article on teenaged pregnancy among Aboriginal youth has been downloaded nearly 500 times. He is currently completing a project on bioethical issues for Muslims in Canada. Kimberley Duerksen, MSc, is Research Coordinator in the Department of Family Medicine, University of Alberta. She has a background in pharmacology and has worked in family medicine research for the past eight years. She has an interest in qualitative and quantitative methodology.