Navigating Both Roles: A Photovoice Exploration of the Young Adult Balancing Daughterhood and Caregiving for a Mother With Young-Onset Dementia

Xueting Tang, Junqiao Wang, Bei Wu, Ann Margaret Navarra, Xiaoyan Cui, Erin Sharp, Sahitya Maiya, Semra Aytur, Jing Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Young adults thrust into the role of caregiving for parents with young-onset dementia (YOD) face unique challenges during their formative years. While existing research acknowledges the crucial role of young adult caregivers, a gap persists in understanding how this group experiences and redefines their identity amidst these circumstances, along with the psychological and societal challenges encountered. This knowledge deficit hinders the identification of suitable social support, adversely affecting the personal growth and well-being of these young adult caregivers. In this single-case study, we used a combination of a semi-structured interview and photovoice to explore the journey of a 19-year-old caregiver, Alice, whose mother had been diagnosed with dementia in the preceding 3 years. Through this unique perspective, we aimed to illuminate how caregiving for a mother with YOD may profoundly redefine familial roles and relationships. Over 3 months, Alice captured significant life moments through photography, selecting meaningful images for bi-weekly meetings. These images served as pivotal themes, triggering in-depth conversations during subsequent interviews to provide nuanced insights into her life experiences. Findings reveal four major themes faced by a young caregiver: (1) challenges adapting to an unexpected role, (2) navigating the complex emotional terrain of losing a loved one to YOD, (3) prioritizing the well-being of the healthy parent, and (4) expressing a profound desire for both informal and formal support. These results underscore the intricate identity and emotional challenges faced by young adult caregivers, emphasizing the urgency of addressing their unique needs through family-centered systemic support services.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalQualitative Health Research
StateAccepted/In press - 2024


  • photovoice
  • young adult caregivers;
  • young-onset dementia;

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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