Caring for a loved one who has a disability or is in decline requires endless hours of dedication; a resilient mindset; a sense of enduring compassion and patience; as well as ongoing selflessness throughout your family member’s illness. It is often challenging to marry this with the demands of your own family, social and work life. The impacts on the mental well-being and quality of life of care givers have often been ignored.
According to Carers Australia there are over 2.86 million Australians providing informal care in Australia today. The growing need to reduce some of the burdens experienced by these carers is increasingly being recognised. While there are support services available, there are also some simple steps you can take to prevent emotional ‘burnt-out’.
According to Mace and Rabins in their book, The 36-Hour Day, it is important to:
- Give yourself permission to take time out for yourself. This is especially important if you are providing 24-hour care to someone with dementia, for example.
- Take some time to go out once a week, ask another person to stay overnight to ensure you receive a good night’s sleep, or if possible, take a vacation.
- Give yourself a present. This helps to give yourself a ‘lift’ when you might need it. Perhaps consider simply standing outside and enjoying a sunset, order your favourite meal at a restaurant, buy a new book, or perhaps a new piece of music.
- Maintain your friendships and social contacts. Friends provide emotional comfort and support, and can often be immensely helpful when you need to take that much needed time out.
- Coupled with this is the importance of avoiding isolation. Call upon local community organisations or religious groups for help. There are often support groups and associations which provide services for families managing specific diseases.
- Find additional help.Consider employing a regular carer to lighten the load on a more consistent basis. It’s amazing what a difference 3 hours a day can make, or even one day a week. Be organised. Involve family and friends regularly in the care process.
- Consider developing a care plan which includes the contact details of support services, and emergency contacts in the event something happens to you.
- Recognise the warning signs. Ask yourself regularly if you are feeling sad or depressed or experiencing anxiety. Are you staying awake at night, not eating enough? If you are answering yes to any of these, then strongly consider seeking support. The well-being of the person you are caring for depends directly on your well-being. It is important to know when to ask for help – and indeed, know there is help available!
At Careseekers we provide respite, short-term and long-term care support to families in need. If you are looking for support and are unsure of your options, please email or call us for more information firstname.lastname@example.org or ph: 1300 765 465.