How to be a good carer

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Almost anyone can become a carer at any time.

Carers are those who provide unpaid care and support to family members and friends who have a disability, mental illness, chronic condition, terminal illness, an alcohol or other drug issue or who are frail aged.

There are nearly 2.7 million carers in Australia, approximately 12 per cent of the population. Of those 2.7 million, about 856,000 (32 per cent) are the primary carer of someone who is frail aged or has a disability..

Most carers are aged 45 years or older, with a significant proportion – 27.4 per cent of primary carers – over 65 years old.

If you are new to being a carer for a loved one, here are some tips from the experts.

Ask questions
To give your loved one the best care, you have to understand their needs. Set aside time to talk. Find out how they feel and what they want you to do for them. Don’t argue or insist your own opinion is best. Offer ideas, but listen to what they have to say. Show that you’ve heard by repeating back key points, such as “I understand that you want to do more for yourself”.

Get organised
When you care for someone at home, days can feel long and unfocused. Give the days structure by making a schedule. Set times for meals, personal care, household chores, exercise, activities and relaxation. Also set sleep and wake times to ensure both of you get enough rest.

To keep things running smoothly, put prescriptions, insurance information, doctor contacts and health history in one place, such as a multi-pocket folder. Keep track of appointments in a paper, computer or smartphone calendar, and add your own appointments to the calendar to avoid scheduling conflicts.

More than a third of older adults take five or more drugs to treat different conditions. All those medicines can lead to mix-ups and mistakes. Go over the list with your loved one’s doctor and pharmacist to ensure every medicine and dose is correct. Store all medicines in one place for easy access. Use a pillbox to keep organised by day and time.

Keep meals simple
It takes time to prepare three meals a day. Planning ahead can help. Do all the week’s grocery shopping in one trip. Cook a big batch of meals and freeze them.

Look after yourself
It’s very important to look after yourself. This includes eating and sleeping well, exercising, seeing friends and taking a break. It’s good to talk to someone about what you are going through. This could be a friend or other family member, another carer or a counsellor.

Read more at WebMD

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6 Comments

Total Comments: 6
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    Easier said than done.

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    I desperately need to get some free time to socialise with friends. My husband has dementia, and it is virtually impossible to have a stimulating adult conversation with him. And as I can’t leave him alone for any length of time I am becoming more and more isolated. I have been granted an aged care package for him, but I’m in the queue with about 120,000 other applicants waiting for their turn to access services. I am very much afraid that my own life will be over before I am freed from this role, which I find to be overwhelming. I don’t begrudge the time and care he needs, but really need a little space for myself.

  3. 0
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    Who looks after the Carers? I am the carer for my terminally ill spouse. I have been advised to have knee replacement, however, that would require 6 weeks of relying on someone else to do everything! Not going to happen! The affected knee has no ligaments intact and that includes the ACL, is just worn bone on bone and nerves. I cannot place my spouse in an untenable position of trying to clean, cook, wash, iron, shop and assist me, when everyday is another mountain on the one way journey! Happiness and ability to enjoy friends, limiting activities is far more important for whatever time my spouse has left.

  4. 0
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    Who looks after the Carers? I am the carer for my terminally ill spouse. I have been advised to have knee replacement, however, that would require 6 weeks of relying on someone else to do everything! Not going to happen! The affected knee has no ligaments intact and that includes the ACL, is just worn bone on bone and nerves. I cannot place my spouse in an untenable position of trying to clean, cook, wash, iron, shop and assist me, when everyday is another mountain on the one way journey! Happiness and ability to enjoy friends, limiting activities is far more important for whatever time my spouse has left.

  5. 0
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    Being a carer is sometimes such a thankless job , I was a career for my late husband for 19 years as he had terminal cancer , we had been married for 59 yrs now I find since he passed away last April I have no idea how to just be myself for myself , I would be completely lost if I didn’t have our little dog for company , we had only moved here 4yrs ago so didn’t really get to know people really , although I have some nice neighbours , and like you Jenny I am waiting for a home care package too, hubby had one and we got a lot of help with that but as soon as he passed away that all stopped straight away and now I’m back in the queue waiting for one .im 77 and I have health problems too ,but we just have to wait our turn .but I guess life goes on and we just have to be grateful for the help when we get it


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