National Carers Week (11 - 17 October)
National Carers Week is about
recognising and celebrating the outstanding contribution unpaid
carers make to our nation.
Anyone at any time can become a carer. National Carers Week is an
opportunity to educate and raise awareness among all Australians
about the diversity of carers and their caring roles. Carers make
an enormous contribution to our communities as well as our national
economy, and National Carers Week provides you with a chance to
take time out to learn about carers and caring in Australia.
Below is an article written by Annie Bamforth for the
Independent which offers some advice on being a carer for your
What I wish someone had told me when I
became a carer.
My husband was involved in a motorbike accident when he
was 26 and I've cared for him for the last 24 years.
The suddenness of my husband's accident and becoming his carer
as well as his wife was tough. Along the way I've learned some
valuable lessons to share with other carers:
Be prepared to fight for your
The relationship with the person you care for can be fraught. Jon
and I have been married for 24 years now, but that doesn't mean
it's plain sailing. We've had to adjust to big change. He has had
to learn what he can and can't do for himself, and both of us have
had to focus on how to make our marriage work. You always have to
keep in mind you aren't fighting each other, but the difficulties
you come across.
Don't let people tell you what is expected of
There are so many misconceptions around being a carer and what it
means - I certainly don't think I'm a martyr! I'm Jon's wife, a
mother and a music teacher, I also happen to be a full-time carer.
Let people see all the things you are.
Be ready to challenge perceptions of
As Jon is in a wheelchair, we unfortunately still find ourselves
facing the "does he take sugar?" attitude. Together we've come up
with a strategy for dealing with this kind of behaviour. If this is
something you might come across, find an approach that works for
Know there are places you can turn to for
I've found the support of people who know and have experience of
what I'm going through helpful. Try to find out about any groups or
organisations in your area that could support you. For instance the
Spinal Injuries Association has helped me find out about spinal
injury rehabilitation as well as providing emotional support.
Listen to the difficult pieces of
Some of the advice Jon and I have taken has not been easy to hear.
For instance, we found that counselling enabled us to process the
fact that Jon was no longer going to be the same person he was
before his accident. This was a loss to us both. As a carer, there
will be difficult steps to take and changes to process, but I know
they have helped me.
Find your way to keep going
I'm not the first carer to stand up and say how hard it is, but
don't underestimate your ability to keep going. I find that
thinking of each day as "untrodden snow", a fresh and new day, is a
big help. Also - never underestimate the importance of your sense
You can - and should - have your own
I don't think carers can hear it enough - remember to put yourself
first and get a break when you can. Taking time off can be
complicated, but you should never think you don't deserve or need
it. Carers need to have their own lives, and consider their own
health as well.
References and further information