This Ontario teen was 12 when she became a caregiver. She's not alone
Samiha Rahman's experience is featured in a new podcast about young caregivers
Samiha Rahman became a young caregiver at the age of 12 after her mom was diagnosed with ALS.
The 2011 life-changing prognosis meant Rahman had to begin preparing meals, feeding her mom and keep her moving, while passing up on fun with her friends.
"It changed all of our lives," said Rahman. "She went from walking, being a normal mother, being a great mother, to not being able to walk, using a walker, slowly to a wheelchair and then to bed rest."
As time went on, her mom's disease progressed, and Rahman says she played a vital role in her care.
"I'd go to school in the morning, I'd come home and then my mom was there. I'd have to do little tasks for her throughout the day."
Rahman's story is one of many that will be featured in a new podcast series by The Change Foundation called Hidden Voices: Stories of Young Carers.
According to the independent Ontario health policy think-tank, more than 500,000 youth across the province have spent time taking care of a sick family member. That means they're taking on parental responsibilities, while also juggling school, jobs and a social life.
"Of course, it was frustrating, but looking back, I see the bigger things .-Samiha Rahman
Rahman's mom had personal support workers, but she, along with her dad, were her primary care givers throughout the night. On the weekends, it would mean that she would have to pass on social activities with friends.
"If my friends wanted to hang out and go to the mall, I always had to make sure I didn't have any responsibilities at home and that was 99 per cent not the case," she said.
"Of course, that was frustrating, but looking back at it ... I see the bigger things ... but as a kid it really hurt not being able to hang out with your friends or finish homework because you were busy with everything at home."
Her mom is still alive, but can only move her head. Now 19, Rahman is attending Western University and her younger sister, who was three when her mom was diagnosed, is now taking over the role of a young caregiver.
The first episode of the podcast debuts on Jan. 30 on all podcast platforms, with a new episode released every Thursday.