Are you a carer?
This is a question you might not have asked yourself or been asked. Carers are all around us; they are people from all walks of life, all ages, all abilities and all doing a marvelous job, but often going unnoticed to themselves and others. They are unpaid.
So first of all ask yourself the question, “Am I a carer?” If you don’t know the answer to this, here are a few other questions you can think about.
Is there someone I know who needs my help? Do I take someone shopping, or to the bank, or to appointments? Do I help someone with their housework, cooking, gardening, letter writing, mobility or other activities?
If the answer to any of these questions is “yes” then you are probably a carer. Many people don’t see themselves as carers. They are just the spouse, friend, brother, father or children, but if you are helping someone maintain their independence and quality of life who is frail, has a disability, has a mental or medical condition (including dementia), then you are more than likely playing the role of a carer.
What are the duties and responsibilities of a carer?
All care is individual and every situation is different. Carers provide help in many ways, these might be physical, social or emotional. Most likely they are all three. Some people provide care all the time and others do it intermittently. Some carers live with the person they care for and others do not. In some cases, care starts gradually when the person is still independent in most aspects of their daily living. However, this can gradually change over time as the needs of the person increases with increasing frailty because of physical disability, psychological difficulties, confusion or the loss of a partner.
Looking after yourself as a carer
Some people don’t decide to become a carer, it just happens. For others it is a definite decision and commitment. Whatever the route by which you have come to the caring role, it is important to look after your own health and wellbeing. Be aware of what the caring tasks require and how your role may change over time. Will you have to give up your current paid work, or will you have to forgo some of your own social opportunities and hobbies and activities?
Did you know that there are more than 2.65 million carers in Australia? So carers are very common. The Commonwealth and Victorian Governments recognise the importance of informal and unpaid caring for people by providing support for carers, including respite (short breaks) and support groups. The Commonwealth Government also provides financial assistance.
Caring support groups are available to provide support, learn from other carers, de-stress and make new and understanding friends. It’s important for you to maintain your physical fitness too, get enough sleep, eat a good diet and keep in touch with your friends and family. Don’t let the feeling of hopelessness overwhelm you or the feeling of isolation, get help for yourself.
We do know that caring can have great personal benefits. This includes a feeling of satisfaction in yourself, strengthening your relationship with the person you care for.
We’d love to hear your experiences as a carer and what you do to look after yourself. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Helpful additional links:
Learn more about being the best carer you can be in Episode 22 of The Better Ageing Podcast:
Listen on your favourite app: