Balancing life as a young adult while caring for my grandmother with dementia

Shree is a caregiver to her grandmother, Sharda, who has vascular dementia. Whilst being a carer at any age brings challenges, Shree shares her story of how she balances life and navigates the world of caring at the age of 26.

When I am asked how I manage as a young adult caregiver, I think of my never-ending to-do list.

It's that compilation of all the tasks and information it takes to manage myself and my loved one(s) and keep things humming along. Carers, you know exactly what I mean, right?

We keep appointments. And records. And tempers. And have to sort pharmacy calls, doctor cancellations, dentist check-up calls, water bills. Give our time. And hugs. And cleaning. And late nights. And lack of sleep. And more.

For many young carers like myself, the everyday pressure we face is immense.

Not only are we the primary caregivers to our loved one(s), we may also have to hold down a job to build our career, maintain friendships and relationships we care about, study for exams. This all goes along with the hours upon hours of invisible labour we do for our loved ones.

Shree's grandmother Varda holding her whiteboard to-do list for the day and smiling

Shree provides Sharda with a helpful list of reminders for the day.

Caregiving since my early twenties

I have been a carer since I was 21, and whilst it has been extremely turbulent, it has also been life-changing in so many positive ways.

My grandma, Sharda, has vascular dementia; this is a common type of dementia caused by reduced blood flow to the brain.

As my grandma's dementia progresses, I have become her feet, her hands and her mind.

Each day she faces a new challenge: one day she’s having strong hallucinations, the next she has incontinence troubles, the next she can’t walk. And then within minutes, she forgets it all happened and we have a laugh and hug.

Light at the end of the to-do list

In my five years of being a young adult caregiver, there is so much I have lost, but there is also so much that I have gained.

I have gained perspective 

Being a carer has made me recognise my soft and gentle personality, alongside my fierce and resilient soul.

I have also gained emotional maturity, emotional intelligence and empathy; these qualities have continuously enabled me to work with my strengths to manage difficult times. 

I have gained strong relationships

Dementia has given me stronger relationships; with family, friendships, work colleagues, relationships.

As the five years have passed, I have felt support from so many in my life.

Whilst caregiving is isolating and I do not always feel understood through my battles, I have had so many people in my life step in and step up to be there for me.

Our lows together have been low, but our highs together have been particularly high, and I am immensely grateful. 

I have gained respect for carers

It is no doubt that caregiving is difficult, draining, heroic.

Carers are silent key workers and there needs to be more recognition for what they do. This feels particularly relevant as we have come out of the global pandemic as people who have been quietly holding our families together in the privacy of our homes, with little to no outside support due to restrictions.

I have gained a fuller respect and appreciation for carers, be it parents, elderly carers, spouse carers, young carers and more.

Our dementia advisers are here for you.

I have gained self love

Caregiving has been a journey, one that led to caregiver guilt and stress that radically changed my self-concept in a negative way.

Overtime, I have had to unlearn these thoughts and have extended greater care to myself.

Some days I give myself credit for just ‘simply enduring’ and ‘doing my best’ during the tough times. I remind myself that I am doing incredibly well and I think about all that I am, instead of all that I am not.

Shree and her grandmother smiling and laughing together

Shree describes caregiving as a journey and wants to celebrate other dementia carers.

Dementia carers should be celebrated

On World Alzheimer’s Day (21 September), I encourage you all to celebrate the carers who support individuals with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia.

I feel like carers are often forgotten by the system, yet are required to save the country billions of pounds. On this day we should celebrate and acknowledge those who care for others.

If you know a carer, reach out to them; even a small message acknowledging their efforts could make their day.

Caring for a person with dementia: A practical guide

Are you supporting someone living with dementia? Get your copy of the latest version of our guide for carers.

Our guide for carers


Unfortunately I have become the unwanted carer. I am the eldest of 3 and suddenly my younger sister has become the chosen one despite years of not being bothered,.
Shree, thank you for making the time to share your experience and wisdom. It's greatly appreciated. Very best wishes to you and your Grandma. Your resilience, generosity and love are so clear.
Sharee reading your story made me tearful. How lovely are you to your preciouse Nani. My sisters and I care for our mummygee. We are 3 of yougest of our family, as adults we have become experts in the loving caring role for our mummygee. Its hard to take as other family mrmbers just leave us to it, and dont Understand the pressures of trying to balance it All. Its diificult and a challenge. My sister tell me Im to hard on myself as my patience has been constantly challeged. I/We want to love and care for our mummygee, after all she has showen us love all our lives. You take care, as i can relate to your story, like its my life.
Shree,you are an amazing young woman .Bless you for the care you give to your grandmother.
You are an amazing soul having looked after your grandma for all this years is a credit to be awarded. As i always said to people around me, been giving the opportunity to make different in people's live whether they are relatives or not it's most rewarding, mind you it's also a very difficult task because i am a care assistant who have supported diverse of people living with dementia for over 10yrs but now looking forward in becoming a trained social worker. People out there, you should always be so proud of whatever job you do and also endeavour to show passion on it. I am very proud of myself for the career job i have chosen. I also used this opportunity to celebrate all the carers around the world, you all are amazing. I hope this short message encourages someone to loved themselves and others and may the almighty God continue to bless your souls as you have decided to support and make different in the lives of vulnerable people among us thanks.
You should be so proud of yourself Shree it is a very hard thing you are doing but also very rewarding as you are making a difference in your grandmothers life. God bless you always.
Well done Shree what you have done till now and still continues is a blessing for you it will pay dividends later in your life.
It destroyed me I looked after my Dad for 3 yrs it is the hard draining thing I done in my life I lived in the fast lane but I had to be with him 24/7 drove a Mercedes Sports Convertible but I do it all again to bring him back I took it bad never to a day rest its the hardest job I know I take my hat of you an I would give you a big hug as your a Winner at your age you could do much more but I brought happiness to me reading your mission now I look out for my Mum who lives in New York alone I meet her every year she built a 8 bedroom she a ex model i feel like a celebrity but having Mum i cherish everyday moment with her in Jamaica an spend 3 month everyday I wake up I got her room sneaking in a start kissing her on her cheek saying Mum I love you an im going in 8 weeks you girl I'm going remember I'm not a drinker bit I'm having a Hennessy for you I'm admire the love an affection you got 👌
You are an absolute star, a selfless champion, well done, and may you be blessed many times over.
What a brilliant article...what an incredible job you are doing and so young! I hope you have support. I agree with everything you said...I was a live-in carer and I was the hands feet and brain for a wonderful lady for nearly 2 years. I have to say though that I was nearly 50 and I don't think I could have done it at your age...much respect! I also have a new respect for carers of every kind. I've had people occasionally look down on me for being a carer... but I know its only because they have never done any caring so they don't know what it takes to be a good carer. Bless you, your grandmother and your family.
You are a wonderful young lady caring for your grandmother with Dementia. I know how hard & upsetting it can be as I am a carer for my husband. It is so sad to see the person you love go through this terrible decease but you have to be strong & you are a truely remarkable young lady ❤
Shree that was a lovely story thanks for sharing some of your caring experience. It’s brought out the best of you and made you a much wiser caring person and loving towards yourself and others and that’s lovely to see. Well done your our hero. X
What a lovely caring granddaughter, doing a brilliant job caring for her grandma
I too am a caregiver, my husband has had Alzheimer’s for 2 years and I forcefully had to retire. It is a hard job but the rewards of time spent together through different phases mean the world to me
Shree you are a lovely young women , your grandmother is so lucky to have such a capable ,organised and caring granddaughter . It is not an easy thing to care for someone you love and working as well . You are a brilliant granddaughter and carer Well done , you will be an inspiration to other carers Best wishes ❤️