‘I need this — can you grab my pills?’ ‘Can you help me with this?’ ‘Can you go in my bag and get me my medicine?’
For more than half of her 16 years, 10th grader Destiny has answered calls like this to help her grandmother and great-grandmother manage their medications.
“I’ve been helping out basically most of my life,” she said.
Despite the essential role Destiny and other youth caregivers play, little is known about how they learn to manage medications, what they know about the medicine they administer, and what kind of rewards and challenges they encounter day to day.
To find out more, Julia Belkowitz, M.D., M.P.H., a University of Miami Miller School of Medicine physician-researcher and pediatrician, and colleagues studied 28 middle school and high school students 12 to 19 years old. Their study is the first of its kind to take a comprehensive look at this population; they reported their findings online in the Journal of Adolescence.