Snoopey is 23 years old and started caring for her mother at age 16. Snoopey’s mother has a number of chronic physical problems that started with severe back problems and she is now largely confined to the couch in the living room. Snoopey provides 24/7 care for her mother at home, helping her with baths, shopping, cooking, cleaning, and other household chores.
Snoopey is an only child and lives in an apartment with her mother. Her mother has been sick off and on since Snoopey was very young, but when Snoopey was 16, she started to need full-time care at home. Snoopey looks after all the household chores and her mother’s personal care, except paying the bills and handing out medication, which her mother can do herself, although Snoopey delivers the rent checks and picks up medications from the pharmacy.
Snoopey’s mother takes several medications for constant pain and other illnesses, and spends most of her days and nights on a lazy-boy type chair as she is unable to fully lie down. She can move around their apartment, but it is very difficult for her to walk and they very rarely go outside together – once every three months or so to see the doctor. Snoopey’s typical day begins around 3pm when she gets up and organizes breakfast for herself and her mom. They spend the day mostly watching television with Snoopey doing jobs here and there until the early hours of the morning when they eventually go to bed. Her mother is able to be on her own for a few hours at a time so Snoopey can go out to go to the store.
Snoopey and her mother have not had many positive experiences with the healthcare system. For several years, her mother was in and out of hospital every few months with multiple and different chronic problems, but she has managed at home out of hospital for the last year. They don’t receive any help from family as relationships are not very positive and with the exception of one neighbour who sometimes helps, Snoopey manages everything on her own. When Snoopey was three years old, her father left them, in part Snoopey thinks because he was unhappy and wanted a son.
Snoopey is not able to work or go to school because of her caregiving responsibilities and is sometimes lonely. Her day-to-day life is not very typical of a young person her age so she finds it difficult to find friends that understand her situation. She has found the youth caregivers group in her neighbourhood to be very helpful – they discuss experiences, feelings, helpful resources, and here she met her best friend who is also a young caregiver. She wishes that she and her mom had more money to make their lives a little easier, such as buying healthy foods and decent clothes. Snoopey was told that she has a limited IQ and that it is unlikely she would ever be able to live on her own and look after herself, but at the same time she knows that she is managing rather well and doing a very good job looking after her mom.
She left her mom once to go on a trip with her caregiving group but this was so difficult for both of them that Snoopey vows never to leave her again. Snoopey feels frustrated by her situation sometimes although caregiving has brought her closer to her mom and they have a very good relationship. She also feels that being a caregiver has made her more aware of her surroundings and she is more ready to offer a helping hand to others in need. Snoopey would like the world to know that ‘gerbils – her favourite animal - rule’!