In Australia, 1 in 8 people provide unpaid care to their family members or friends. Whether they are supporting someone with a disability, chronic condition, terminal illness or who is frail aged, these carers make such an enormous difference in people’s lives. This is especially true during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and extended lockdown, which has placed carers under pressure as they undertake their caring responsibilities – often in very difficult circumstances.
As part of National Carers Week 2021, we’d like to say a huge thanks to the unpaid carers who provide support to their loved ones. We see the amazing – often unnoticed – work you do to make lives better. Supporting you in your role motivates and inspires us to do our best for your loved ones.
Taking care of yourself is important too. While it can be easy to put yourself last when you are looking after someone, it’s important to make time for looking after yourself, and making sure your needs are met.
Here are some important self-care tips to remember if you are a carer.
- Make time for the things you enjoy – whether you love reading, surfing, going for walks, going out for coffee or bike riding, make sure you take the time to fill your own cup by doing things that will bring you joy. This will help you stay refreshed.
- Book in respite care – government-subsidised respite care is available to give you a break, or allow you to attend to other responsibilities. Home Caring offers different respite services, ranging from a couple of hours a week to an entire weekend. Get in touch to find out more.
- Look after yourself – it’s all about the basic things like eating healthy meals, getting enough sleep, staying active with physical activity and drinking in moderation. Looking after your health is a great way to invest in yourself as well as your loved one.
- Allow yourself to cry – it’s okay to feel sad and overwhelmed sometimes. Give yourself permission to ‘feel’ your feelings and process them in your own way. If you need someone to chat to, you can always call the Carers Gateway’s free counselling service.
- Get mindful – mindfulness doesn’t have to be a yoga class or meditation (though these things can help!). Simply doing an activity that uses your senses, such as walking the dog, and trying to stay in the present can help you decrease your stress levels.
- Stay social – for many people in caring roles, there can be a danger of withdrawing from the world. Make sure you stay in touch with others, whether it’s friends, colleagues, other family members or social groups in your community.
- If someone offers helps, say YES – no one can do everything on their own. If people offer to help, get them to do everyday chores that give you a break, such as making a meal or helping out with the shopping. You need support too!
- Learn skills that can help you – understanding your loved one’s condition or how to support them in a helpful way can be empowering. Chat to your home care provider to get advice and support (we’re always happy to help), or join a forum for people who are in a similar position as you.
- Give yourself regular rewards – caring is hard work. Along with the priceless reward of knowing you are making a difference, treat yourself to a massage, coffee date out or whatever takes your fancy. You deserve it!
- Collaborate with your loved one’s carer – as an aged and disability care provider, we always love knowing how we can better support our clients’ families and friends. We’re in this together, and we work collaboratively to support your loved one.