The joys and challenges of caring
More than 2.6 million Australians are carers, and every day they make a huge contribution to the lives of those they care for and to the nation as a whole.
They’re family, partners and friends who care for frail elders, and loved ones with disability, a medical condition, or a mental illness.
The Australian Government is supporting carers through the National Carer Strategy.
This includes payments to support the important work carers do, to recognise and respond to the needs of carers so that they have rights, choices, opportunities and capabilities to participate in economic, social and community life.
Canberra-based Jo Donovan, a Dunghutti woman from the Kempsey area, cares for her 74-year-old mother Marie Donovan, who developed dementia almost four years ago.
Working fulltime in the public service, Jo initially found the concept of becoming her mother’s carer hard to deal with.
“I found it really difficult to come to terms with how my life was going to be disrupted and it was very hard to accept the fact that I had to take responsibility for this,” she said.
She tackled the practical tasks of securing suitable housing and good support from organisations like Carers ACT and Alzheimer’s Australia. But she found it was the emotional side of turning her life around to put someone else first that was her biggest challenge.
“I became like a mother again and I didn’t mind that because my children have all grown up now so there was a bit of a void there so it was great,” said Jo, who is the mother of four adult children.
“And I love my mum and wanted to make sure that she was healthy and safe.”
Carer’s relationships, finances, sleep patterns and energy levels do suffer and Jo advises all carers to make sure they take proper breaks from their role and tap into all available support and help.
Jo said watching her mum’s happiness and state of mind improving in the caring home she is providing, far outweigh all the difficulties.
“Mum’s dementia has improved having me at home with her,” she said.
“One of the rewards is that I’m able to be with mum in her later years of life. We laugh all day about the silliest things and that’s another thing that’s kept her illness from progressing.”Tweet