FCA logo

Considerations for Young Adult Caregivers

Becoming a caregiver during young adulthood brings up a complex set of questions and requires difficult decisions, ones that you may not have expected to make so early in your lifetime. You’re not alone. According to Caregiving in the U.S. 2020 report, there are an estimated 53 million unpaid family caregivers in the U.S. Over a quarter of these family caregivers are Millennials or Gen Z, who often face unique challenges different from older generations who provide care. Managing careers, maintaining friendships, dating, creating a family, planning for the future, and sustaining a healthy lifestyle can all add to the stresses of balancing caregiving and young adulthood. In this article, we provide considerations for young adult family caregivers with ages ranging from 18 to 40 years old.


Elements of your personal identity may include your age, gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, faith, family role, profession, interests, and more. Have you considered being a caregiver as an identity?

Many people who are providing care for a family member describe their care role based only on the relationship dynamic between them and the care receiver, such as a daughter caring for a mother or a spouse caring for a partner. Overtime, caregiving responsibilities can increase because of the progression of the care receiver’s condition. As a caregiver, you’ll spend more time and energy on caregiving tasks and you’ll have less time to participate in your interests, to connect with your social circles, or perform at your job. It is possible to lose your sense of self or personal identity because you are constantly caring for somebody else and their needs.

There is value in embracing the caregiver identity. Search the keyword “caregiver” on the web and you’ll find plenty of people, organizations, resources, workshops, tutorials, books, and podcasts dedicated to improving the lives of caregivers with helpful tips and life-enriching strategies. For people who care for both their aging parents and children of their own, the commonly used identity is “Sandwich Caregiver” or “Sandwich Generation.” Sandwich caregivers have the responsibility of caregiving for multiple people in their family. For people who care for their partners, they are considered “Spousal Caregivers” and may be caregiving earlier in their marriage than expected. You can also base your caregiving identity on a specific diagnosis, such as “Dementia Caregiver, or by location, such as “Long-Distance Caregiver.

Additionally, it is possible to identify yourself based on the intersectionality of your multiple identities, which can include race, culture, and generation. Examples are BIPOC (Black Indigenous People of Color) millennial caregivers and LGBTQ+ caregivers. Caregivers are a diverse population. For the latest research on caregiver statistics and demographics, check out the Caregiving in the U.S. 2020 Report.

Connecting with folks who share the same lived experiences as caregivers can provide you with a sense of social belonging, human connection, and community support.


Caregiving for another person can become a full-time job too. Juggling both career and caregiving is demanding. There may be a lot of uncertainty about your care receiver’s condition and its progression, but you’ll still need to make decisions that can affect you professionally, financially, physically, and mentally.

During young adulthood, most people are just starting their professional careers. By adding on caregiving responsibilities, you will have less time and energy to take on new work projects, or develop professional networks, and may have to decline a promotion or a job offer located in a different city. Also, there are out-of-pocket costs to caregiving, and you may not have built a financial safety net so early in your career to cover the expenses. Not being able to pursue your career ambitions can affect your potential income and can create financial stress. Some caregivers need to take their care receiver to doctor’s appointments, so they have to take time off from work and also perform physical caregiving tasks at home. Your work performance and mental focus may not be 100% because you might be physically and emotionally exhausted. You may be reluctant to tell your employer about your caregiving situation because you’re worried about your job security or not being offered a promotion, both of which can affect your financial future. In some circumstances, people quit their jobs to become full-time caregivers and might move in with their care receiver. By quitting their job or putting their job on hold for an unknown time period, the young adult professional might put themselves at a lesser competitive advantage when re-entering the workforce at a later time. Here are statistics on juggling work and caregiving.

Have you considered talking to your employer about your caregiving situation? This conversation is an opportunity for you to discuss flexible work schedules, to learn more about your employee benefits, to explore Employee Assistance Programs, and to ask about the Family and Medical Leave Act or Paid Family Leave.


Much like your career, education can be overwhelming when there is uncertainty in your caregiving situation. In young adulthood, caregivers may still be in school or may have hopes to pursue higher education. Balancing education and caregiving can affect you academically, financially, mentally, and socially. Timing is critical in academics because of application deadlines, attendance, homework, exam dates, and other requirements. Caregiving will take extra time and energy and it is possible that you may miss deadlines and exams or have to ask for extensions. Not being able to complete your coursework might delay graduation, which in turn may affect your ability to get a job and pay for any student loans or other expenses. Pursuing higher education may not seem feasible because of additional expenses, time availability, and mental capacity. Caregiving while in school can also take away time from connecting with your cohort and building your social network.

Have you considered talking to your professors, academic advisor, or counselor about your caregiving situation? This conversation is an opportunity for you to discuss alternative academic options, to create a new strategic study plan, to ask about scholarships, and to learn about mental wellness programs.


In addition to career and education planning, family planning is challenging for young adult caregivers. In early adulthood, the time and energy that are typically spent on dating and developing long term relationships are often spent on caregiving responsibilities instead. Responsibilities can include a variety of tasks ranging from diagnosis research, medication management, or cleaning the house, to touring assisted living communities. Caregivers might bail out on a date to address caregiving emergencies or miss out on meeting potential life partners due to limited availability. Also, it is difficult to create a family plan when the timeline for caregiving is unknown. Some caregivers delay getting married or having children because of limited time, home space, finances, and emotional capacity.

Maintaining friendships is also difficult. Young adult caregivers commonly feel isolated in their care journey because they are often the only one in the peer group that is caregiving, which means caregiving is not a common discussion point during work and social hangouts. Without peers who have caregiving experience, it is difficult to have sympathetic and empathetic connections, especially with new people they are dating. Friends don’t know how to help or know what to say. It takes extra time, energy, and patience for caregivers to continuously explain their experience to their friends.

Managing family relationships can be complicated when caregiving in young adulthood was not anticipated. Some people may be the default caregiver because they have no other family, they live the closest to the care recipient, or there is a family cultural obligation. These situations can create frustration and resentment. Other young adults may decide to become caregivers because of love and commitment to their family. However you become a caregiver, you will not only have to manage the caregiver and care receiver relationship, but you will also experience a change in family dynamics. For example, if you’re a young adult caring for your aging parents and making decisions for them, be prepared for the parent-child role reversal of responsibilities and dependencies.

With all the stresses of caregiving, it is essential to maintain a healthy relationship with yourself while caregiving. In order to continue to give quality care, caregivers need to take care of themselves. Here are some tips for self-care from FCA. By actively practicing self-care, caregivers can improve their emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.

While maintaining relationships requires tremendous work, have you considered the rewards of caregiving? Being a caregiver early in life can teach you hands-on skills, give you a sense of purpose, inspire new appreciation for life and family, help you discover self-compassion, and create time for memorable moments with your care recipient.

Community Support

Earlier, we mentioned the value of embracing your caregiving identity. If you’re not able to connect with family and friends within your immediate circle, have you considered mentioning your caregiver role in other communities with which you’re involved?

Former first lady, Rosalynn Carter, captured caregiving best with her quote: “There are only four kinds of people in the world: those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.”

Sharing your caregiver experience with others can help you build new connections with people who have had a similar experience, and inspire other people to share their stories too.

Explore a new community by joining a support group hosted by a facilitator. There are peer support groups for specific caregiver identities and conditions of the care receiver. Support groups offer a safe space for caregivers to ask honest questions and to share their resources, tips, challenges, coping strategies, worries, fears, and emotions. For young adult caregivers, typical discussion topics include guilt, resentment, anticipatory grief, role reversals, and future planning. Group conversations provide validation, social connections, and a common ground for participants to check-in with and to encourage each other on their care journey.

It is common for caregiver support groups to consist mainly of older folks. Young adult caregivers may not connect with the other generations because their challenges of career, education, relationships, and life planning are not the same. Although there are differences in life priorities, there are valuable takeaways from sharing emotional experiences and hearing about other people’s life outcomes and realizations.

Here at FCA, we offer local diverse support groups, both online and in-person (pre-Covid pandemic) in the San Francisco Bay Area. Currently, we have two Young Adult Caregivers Support Groups that meet virtually twice a month on the Zoom platform. FCA is associated with other caregiver resource centers and can help caregivers find support groups where they live.

There are also ways to find support through social media platforms. You can join private young caregiver support groups on Meta (formerly Facebook), follow specific caregiving hashtags (e.g. #youngcaregiver and #millennialcaregivers) on Instagram or TikTok to read relevant posts and to join in on the social conversation, find caregiver support videos on YouTube, and tune into Clubhouse to listen to caregiver conversations.

In times of grief, consider attending The Dinner Party for online support from a worldwide community of people with ages ranging from 20 to 40 years old who have experienced the loss of a parent, partner, child, sibling, other close family member or close friend.


There is growing interest in the social status of caregiving, in sharing caregivers’ stories and in public acknowledgement of the financial value of caregiving and why compensating caregivers make sense. Some caregivers find that joining non-profit organizations that advocate for caregivers is a way to be part of the new community that’s doing important work. Young people’s perspectives can be particularly valuable in the world of activism. Your voice and story may be valuable for policymakers to hear. You can begin by exploring the work of organizations like Caring Across GenerationsCaregiver Action Network, and National Alliance for Caregiving. FCA offers Advocacy Tips you can take up on your own, too.


By self-identifying as a caregiver, accessing caregiver resources, and connecting with the caregiver community, you can learn practical strategies and use tips from professionals and other people’s experiences. As you navigate through your young adult caregiving journey, give yourself permission to start conversations, to explore options, to create new possibilities, and to nourish your well-being.

For more insight from current and former young adult caregivers, Aisha Adkins and Jenn Chan, watch FCA’s webinar discussion on Young Adult Family Caregivers.


Family Caregiver Alliance
National Center on Caregiving

(415) 434-3388 | (800) 445-8106 
Website: www.caregiver.org
Email: info@caregiver.org
FCA CareNav: http://fca.cacrc.org/login
Services by State: www.caregiver.org/connecting-caregivers/services-by-state/
Support Groups: https://www.caregiver.org/connecting-caregivers/support-groups/

Family Caregiver Alliance (FCA) seeks to improve the quality of life for caregivers through education, services, research, and advocacy. Through its National Center on Caregiving, FCA offers information on current social, public policy, and caregiving issues and provides assistance in the development of public and private programs for caregivers. For residents of the greater San Francisco Bay Area, FCA provides direct family support services for caregivers of those with Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, ALS, head injury, Parkinson’s, and other debilitating brain disorders that strike adults.

Other Organizations and Links

The Dinner Party

Caring Across Generations

Caregiver Action Network

National Alliance for Caregiving

Caregiving in the U.S. 2020 Report