Caring for the Unpaid Carer
Tis the season to be jolly! Often we use the festive time of year to take stock – to reflect on the year that’s been and get excited about the one ahead. It’s also a time to be thankful, and my list is very, very long. But it starts and stops with the most special people in my life: my wife and son.
I’ve spoken about my wife, Lauren, and son Logan a number of times. It’s not something I’m conscious of doing; rather, a reflection of just how important and entwined there are in my everyday life. Lauren in particular – not just my wife, but my best friend, my confidant, head cheerleader and, often, carer.
Thanks to COVID, we’ve unfortunately lost access to a few regular carers that I would employ from time to time, to assist with my everyday needs. An inconvenience for sure, but like the trouper she is, Lauren has stepped in to help time and time again.
Selfless doesn’t even begin to describe her. As a Kiwi, she hasn’t seen her family in New Zealand for a long, long time due to the border restrictions and impact of quarantine. In her words, she couldn’t leave me in the situation of not having help when I needed it.
Children, that’s called unconditional love.
While amazing, Lauren isn’t alone. Unpaid carers across the world are putting the needs of their loved ones ahead of their own, and they don’t do it for fame or glory. They do it out of love – the love they have for the person they’re caring for.
An unpaid carer might be a partner, family member, friend or neighbour. They could be temporary or permanently caring for someone because of illness, disability or an addiction, or for an older person with care needs.
Carers provide different types of care and support. Carers can help someone to be as independent and healthy as possible, and live as well as possible, and their support can range from driving them between and helping with errands, to helping some people feed, bathe and dress.
Often times these people will push themselves to the limit, ignoring their own fatigue, wants and needs.
It’s such a thankless job and, in my opinion, not recognised enough.
I recently read the statistic that one in three unpaid carers have their own disability or chronic illness.
When you consider that a recent announcement from the Australian Government stated one in six Aussies were living with disability, we’re talking double that number are also caring for someone – unrecognised, and unpaid.
So what can we do about it?
First, tell the carer in your life (whether they’re your carer, or are caring for someone who know) they’re awesome. Say thank you for the love, consideration and dedication. Tell them they’re making a difference.
And tell them it’s OK to put themselves first sometimes, Australian Unity have a great article on this: find it here (https://www.australianunity.com.au/wellbeing/community-and-relationships/four-ways-to-support-an-unpaid-carer)
Be there to listen when you ask how they are. Check in regularly or if you suspect things aren’t ok. And, if you can, offer to help out in whatever way you can.
If you, dear reader, are an unpaid carer then I say THANK YOU. You are truly making a difference to someone’s life. Is there anything more Christmas-y than that! While you’re a hero in our eyes, it’s important to remember you don’t have super powers – so if you need help or you need a break, I encourage you to do so. No one will think less of you; in fact, you’ll be more because it’ll show you’re a super HUMAN.
If you are struggling, I urge you to seek support. Here’s a few resources that you can reach out to:
• Carers WA
• Carers Australia
• Services Australia
• Carers Trust
Finally, from my family to yours: Merry Christmas! Wishing you a safe and happy Festive Season, and a prosperous 2022. Thank you for supporting 30 Foot Drop.
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