Who Cares?

According to the Carers Australia website there are approximately 700, 000 Victorians who are caring for a family member or friend with a disability, mental or chronic health illness or who is frail aged.
Can you imagine what the figures might be like on a world wide scale?

I have a child with a disability. By all accounts, he fits into the 'severe' category. I don't look at him as though he is a 'severe disability' which of course you all know. Nevertheless, it can be hard yakka sometimes playing that dual role of parent and carer.

So, what can carers do to take care of themselves?
  • Share the care with family or friends. This isn't really an option for us. But for those of you who do have that kind of help available, make sure you communicate your needs. Accept offers of help!
  • Take some time to care for yourself. This is so important, but also the hardest to implement. What did you do before you had your child with a disabilty? Can you find time to do that again? Can you find even 1/2 and hour a day to do something you really enjoy doing (go for a walk, read a book, gardening, cooking).
  • Take time to talk to your partner/husband. This is incredibly important. Open communication is the key to staying on the same side. You both need to lean on each other when times are tough. As hard as it can be, try and make at least one night a week where you can do something special together. Respite is a great opportunity for this! If you don't have respite, at least have a special tea together, anything that will give you a chance to just talk.
  • Stay in touch. As tempting as it is to shut yourself off from the world, sometimes it is really important to keep in touch with your friends. You discover very quickly the people that are going to stick by you and support you, so send them an email, a text message or even a phone call. Try and catch up with people at least once a month. It only takes a little bit of contact to make you feel connected again.
  • Get to know other carers. Parent to Parent support cannot be beaten! Just talking to someone who can relate to what you are going through helps in so many ways. Other parents of a child with a disability are your BEST support.
Sounds all good and easy hey? For most of us who are old hands, we know all the 'shoulds' about looking after ourselves. Putting it in to practice is that hardest part!

So, what can people do to help us carers?
  • Offer to help out. If you can, then help!
  • Be a friend! Caring can be isolating, sometimes your company can make the biggest difference!
  • Cook an extra meal if you can. If you know that your friend/neighbour is having a rough time bake them something. Take them some flowers from your garden and leave them on the letterbox. The smallest things mean the most.
Most carers won't accept offers of help. They don't want to burden people. We are a stubborn and proud breed!! I know that my friends do all of the above for me and we are incredibly lucky.

All of the ideas can be found on the Carers Australia website. I have poached most of them to put here!

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