Young Caregivers Get an Assist
Imagine you're a teenager. You want to hang out with your friends, but you have to go home, clean the house, cook dinner and take care of your sick parent or family member. It's a lot. You want to do it. You love them and you’d do anything for them. But still, you're just a teen. An assist here and there would be nice...
I'll help with your appointment.
I’m cooking tonight! I did the laundry, dishes and cleaned the house today.
I love you mom! I’m always here for you!
These are commonly heard statements in the Cuco house. Dianne and Tanya Cuco have been caring for their mom since her leukemia diagnosis in 2008.
“It was so hard. Our dad left the house one year before my mom got ill,” says Dianne. “At first, my older sister and I didn’t know what to do.”
They quickly learned to care for their mom even while they were going to school and work. Both sisters do housework. They give their mom medication and take her to buy groceries.
Tanya is now a college sophomore studying to be a radiologist. Dianne, a ninth-grader, wants to be a veterinarian or marine biologist someday.
“Hopefully I can do something bigger for my mom when I grow up, like buy her a house,” says Dianne.
Caregiving youth, like Dianne and Tanya, help their relatives deal with physical or mental illness or disability. This help is significant and often on a daily basis, according to the American Association of Caregiving Youth (AACY), a support organization for youth and their families.
These eight to 18-year-olds often forgo their education, health, and childhood to take on the responsibilities of an adult caregiver.
For children in ethnic-minority families, things can be even more complicated. Sometimes they are the only English-speakers in the family. They often miss school to serve as translators for family doctor appointments.
These heavy responsibilities can cause them to fall behind in school. They sometimes struggle with feelings of isolation and anxiety.
Carmella Keim was five when her mom was diagnosed with a brain illness that affects her balance.
“I help give her medicine, clean around the house, and also help my dad cook,” says Carmella. She is a freshman now at Florida Atlantic University studying to be a schoolteacher.
State Farm and ADT are supporting these children and their families. They are helping relieve anxiety through AACY's Caregiving Youth Stress Reduction Project. It provides a source of 24/7 live communication for ill or disabled family members. This allows the youth caregiver to focus on school and socialization.
“I’m so glad my mom now has the medical alert bracelet,” says Tanya. "Before having it, she felt insecure and scared to be home alone. Now my sister and I have peace of mind while we are at school or work. We know she can get help if she falls down.”
“The medical alert pendant allows my daughter and husband to leave the house without worrying about me falling,” says Denise Keim. “Thanks to State Farm, ADT and AACY, my daughter is finally getting the freedom and childhood she deserves.”
ADT is the nation’s leading provider of home security services. They are donating ADT Medical Alert monitoring devices to 100 AACY client families. AACY selects families and works with ADT to provide the appropriate device at no cost. State Farm is covering monitoring service costs for one year for all 100 families.
State Farm also offers connected care options and customer discounts on select ADT products. This helps meet the unique needs of customers in caregiving situations. For more information, visit statefarm.com.