November 2005, Vol 95, No. 11 | American Journal of Public Health
Levine et al. | Peer Reviewed | Research and Practice | 1
RESEARCH AND PRACTICE
Objectives. We examined the prevalence, characteristics, and responsibilities
of young adults aged 18 to 25 years who are caregivers for ill, elderly, or disabled
family members or friends.
Methods. We analyzed 2 previously published national studies (from 1998 and
2004) of adult caregivers.
Results. Young adult caregivers make up between 12% and 18% of the total
number of adult caregivers. Over half are male, and the average age is 21. Most
young adults are caring for a female relative, most often a grandmother. Young
adult caregivers identified a variety of unmet needs, including obtaining medical
help, information, and help making end-of-life decisions.
Conclusions. Analysis of these 2 surveys broadens our understanding of the
spectrum of family caregivers by focusing on caregivers between the ages of 18
and 25 years. The high proportion of young men raises questions about the ap-
propriateness of current support services, which are typically used by older women.
Concerted efforts are essential to ensure that young adults who become caregivers
are not deterred from pursuing educational and career goals. (Am J Public Health.
Young Adult Caregivers: A First Look at an
| Carol Levine, MA, Gail Gibson Hunt, BA, Deborah Halper, MPH, MSUP, Andrea Y. Hart, BA, Jessica Lautz, MPP, and David A. Gould, PhD
tors. This article is a first step in describing
the population, laying the groundwork for
The family caregiving literature is vast and
growing, but only a few articles specifically
address young adult caregivers. Shifren3 and
Shifren and Kachorek4 reported on 24 indi-
viduals aged 21 to 58 years who had been
caregivers while under the age of 21. The
participants, recruited mainly through adver-
tisements in caregiving organization newslet-
ters, reported more positive