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Caring and illnesses

Looking after a parent

Some young people look after one or both of their parents. You might have helped to look after a parent for as long as you can remember. Or your parent might have suddenly become ill or disabled. Whatever the situation, caring for someone often brings up lots of feelings. Many young carers enjoy looking after their parent and find it rewarding. But it can also cause a lot of worry and stress.

Your parent might have a physical illness, disability or a drug or alcohol problem. You might have to help around the home with cooking, cleaning and paying bills. Some young carers might also have to help their parents with washing, dressing or going to the toilet.

If your parent has a mental health problem, you might not have to do as many jobs around the house, but you might have to stay in a lot to keep your parent company, listen when they're feeling worried or anxious, cope with mood swings or unusual behaviour, and be a shoulder to cry on.

Some young carers who look after parents may also have to look after their brothers or sisters.

If you're caring for a parent you should be able to get extra help if you need it, or more information and advice.

Where to get help

Family doctors and nurses are often good people to talk to about being a young carer. If you or your parent has a social worker, the social worker might be able to make sure that there are other people and services that can help the whole family. Social services might need to do an assessment of you and your family. This isn’t anything scary, it’s just a way of finding out what would help you and your family. It can make sure that you're not missing out on help that you need or steps you should be taking.

You can speak to a teacher if you're caring for a parent and are finding it difficult to keep up at school.

Watch the video below to see Oritse Williams from JLS answer questions from young carers.


Disabled Parents Network

The Disabled Parents Network is a charity for disabled people who are, or who hope to become, parents. It provides peer support, information and advice to disabled parents and can provide or assist in the training of disabled parents, volunteers and any health professionals working with them. It also provides support to their wider families.

Confidential support

The Disabled Parents Network has a confidential telephone helpline that can provide support and practical help, and give you other contacts. To speak to someone from the network, call 0300 3300 639 (standard rate) Monday to Friday 10am to 4pm or email the network.

The charity also has a free, confidential advocacy service. Its advocates can take on complex cases, offer advice and support, and fight for the rights of the people they represent.

Peer support

The Disabled Parents Network has a peer support register where members share their experiences with other parents. The network’s website also has online discussion forums.

Oritsé Williams talks to young carers

Oritsé Williams from the band JLS answers questions from young carers for people with multiple sclerosis (MS). Oritsé's mother has MS, and he was a young carer himself. When he was growing up he helped look after his mother, as well as his younger brothers and sister.

Media last reviewed: 25/02/2014

Next review due: 25/02/2016


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Page last reviewed: 15/08/2012

Next review due: 15/08/2014

Call Carers Direct on 0300 123 1053

Confidential information and advice for carers.

Lines are open 9am to 8pm Monday to Friday (except bank holidays), 11am to 4pm at weekends. Request a free call back or an interpreted call back in one of more than 170 languages including ربي, বাংলা, 中文, Français, ગુજરાતી, Polski, Português, ਪੰਜਾਬੀ, Soomaali, Español, Türkçe and .اردو.

You can talk to an adviser live online or send a query by email.

Find out more about the Carers Direct helpline.

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