In Australia there are approximately 2.86 million family caregivers or unpaid carers that provide approximately 1.9 billion hours of care per year. The estimated replacement value of family carers is $60.3 billion annually.
It is clear Australia depends on carers and number of unpaid carers is only going to increase as the population continues to age and more people opt to live in their own home. Whilst it’s important the more resources are allocated to support family carers in their role. Often for many family carers they are often reluctant to seek support for various reasons and often put the care recipient’s needs before their own.
1. Put your own health as a priority. By taking care of yourself this will ensure you have the reserves to continue your role in carer. Don’t put off medical check ups!
2. Don’t be afraid to accept help. If friends and family are offering be sure to accept their help, even go as far as to suggest what you want them to do. They wouldn’t offer unless the wanted to help.
3. Being a carer impacts you both physically and emotionally, it’s important to make use of regular respite care. Don’t wait to feel completely burned out, make it a regularly booking. As hard as it maybe It will help you continue in
your caring role.
4. Find support from other family carers. It helps speaking with other that maybe going through a similar situation. To help you feel like you are not alone.
5. Monitor your own feelings and watch out for signs of depression. Carers have poorer health and wellbeing than non-carers and research shows more than one-third of carers experience depression. Being a
carer can be a leading cause of their depression.
6. Ensure medical information and your loved ones history is up to date and easy to find if and when needed.
7. Ensure legal documents such as medical, financial, enduring or guardianship have been arrange are in order also.
8. Last but not least, be kind to yourself, and give yourself credit for doing the best you can in what can be one of the most difficult roles in anyone’s life!
We came across this short film called Tommy on Tour. It’s definitely worth watching and it maybe something other family carers can relate to. It’s not only beneficial for family carers but also nurses and personal care attendants (PCA). It shows the important role health professionals play in adequately supporting family carers and the impact it can have long term if they do not receive the necessary supports.
A statewide service that offers family carers counselling, respite & support, information & advice, education & training- and much more. To find out what is available in your state or territory click here
Tommy’s Story is a remarkable one, of a son and family carer and now a campaigner for dementia awareness. Tommy Whitelaw has his own Dementia Care Blog that provides practical tips and resources to support family carers.