Supporting Australia’s essential informal carer force
Did you know that roughly 1 out of every 10 people in Australia is an informal carer? The Australian Bureau of Statistics placed the figure at a total of 2.65 million people in 2018, and one could only speculate that this vast number has done nothing but increase over the last five years.
Many of these informal carers are providing care for an older person (or people), usually family members but can also be friends, too. They will assist with a huge range of different things including (but certainly not limited to):
- Personal care
- Transport e.g. driving to appointments
- Medication administration
And while providing care is something we all want to do for those that we love, juggling everything can sometimes simply become a little too difficult for us to handle. Especially considering all the other areas of life that don’t just stop once we start providing informal care.
Review your informal care situation and act accordingly
If you’re feeling as though it’s wearing on you, it may well be time to reflect on how much you’re doing for your loved one while forgetting to take care of yourself in the process. There are a number of telltale signs of fatigue and exhaustion – find out what they are in our Caring For The Carer guide.
Self-care is of the utmost importance if you want to continue to provide the best possible care. It’s vital that you take time to focus on yourself and making sure you’re:
- Eating well
- Sleeping well
- Keeping active
- Staying social
- Doing something just for you
Because when you feel healthy and positive, this will ultimately lead to better care outcomes for your loved one.
Ideal self-care doesn’t only involve maintaining a healthy body though: it also involves a healthy mind as well. Caring for a loved one, especially if they’re deteriorating and/or are palliative, can be very emotionally taxing.
It may help to talk things out with a friend or other family member should things begin to feel too much in an emotional sense, but sometimes it can be a good idea to reach out to a trained healthcare professional to talk through difficult situations, like one-on-one, group or phone counselling services.
There are also other emotional support services specifically for carers that can be found on the Australian Government’s Carer Gateway website. These include:
- In-person peer support groups, where you can meet other carers in your area and share knowledge and information with like-minded people
- Online forums to ask questions about particular aspects of caring for your loved one and joining in on discussions about a variety of relevant topics
- Helpful tips and information on a huge range of different areas of formal and informal care
- Upskilling through free online courses from dealing with stress to communication and more
- Self-guided coaching for essential topics as a carer
- Guidance on any potential free services (cooking, cleaning, transport, respite care) and/or equipment that you utilise during your carer duties
But what if all of that isn’t quite enough? The long and short of it is that there are only so many hours in a day, and if one of the major challenges you’re facing is a major lack of time, what is there to do?
A little bit of respite goes a long way
If you haven’t yet considered it, bringing in a professional CAREGiver may just be exactly what you need to right the ship.
One of the many Home Instead respite care success stories is that of Margaret and her daughter Deb. After her husband passed, Margaret was living alone and began to find it a bit difficult to get everything done on her own. As such, she and Deb decided it would be better to move into Deb’s home.
This move brought with it a much longer daily to-do list for Deb, however, because Margaret isn’t able to do some of the housework herself. And because Deb became responsible for them, it meant less quality time spent together. But once the ACAT (Aged Care Assessment Team) reviewed and approved their request for a CAREGiver, everything changed.
“Having the Home Instead carers take care of things like housework and exercise are important because it allows me and mum to enjoy each other’s company more,” said Deb.
“One of the biggest benefits for me personally as a carer is that some of the responsibility has been taken off my hands because mum struggles with mobility. So having things like the cleaning and exercise sessions taken care of by the ladies from Home Instead has been fantastic,” she said.
So if you’ve been ‘umm-ing and ahh-ing’ about whether or not it’s time to bring in some extra help to relieve some stress and help you connect better with your loved one, now may be the right time to do so.