If you are the carer, then who is caring for you?
In 2012 there was an estimated 2.7 million unpaid carers in Australia. This might be sitting close to home for you if you have aging parents or a child with special needs or a husband with health issues.
Many carers acknowledge the joy it is nursing their aging parents or partners and allowing them to die with dignity. Caring for children with special needs, as with all difficult life events, can give beautiful life lessons of patience and gratitude.
But caring for your loved ones can also represent huge financial strains. Not only the loss of income but the added costs for specialist appointments and equipment. In 2012, 56% of female primary carers were on a government pension or allowance.
Carers can also feel isolated, weary, worried and depressed. Often the sleep interruption affects their daily functions and carers are often diagnosed with stress-related disorders.
Many carers report that when caring for their loved one finished, they were often disadvantaged with outdated skill sets or general lack of confidence in re-joining the work force.
The physical demands of caring are particularly impacted when the person being cared for is also incontinent. Just the increase of washing clothes and bedding places enormous strain not only physically, but financially.
It is a very sad truth that retirement villages are being filled with younger people, who simply don’t belong there, simply because they have incontinence. The 2009 SDAC data revealed about 4 our of 5 were female.
The Continence Foundation of Australia have identified this need in the community of carers. Getting advice for dealing with incontinence is vital as research has shown that there is poorer physical or emotional well-being when compared to carers who don’t assist with continence management.
Where to seek help:
There may be a number of things that are causing incontinence or making it worse, so getting professional help is important in proper diagnosis and management. There is a free and confidential National Continence Helpline on 1800 33 00 66 and is staffed by continence nurse advisors who can provide practical information, a wide range of resources and details of local continence services.
The National Continence Helpline (1800 33 00 66) can also advise about financial schemes for continence products that are provided by the Australian, state and territory governments.
Incontinence is often linked with other chronic health conditions or disabilities. As a carer for someone who may have one of these health conditions or disabilities, you may be eligible for financial assistance from the government.
To find out more and assess your eligibility, contact the Carer Advisory Service on 1800 242 636
Taking care of you:
It can be very difficult to prioritise your needs in a busy house-hold, but it is vital that you do.
Finding opportunities to stay active is key not only to your mental health, but also to give the strength you need for the physical demands of caring for a loved one. Here are my top tips for carers:
- At the very least make the time to walk regularly – this will allow the stresses of day to wash away
- Find a friend to have a regular walking date, the social interaction is also vital to your mental health
- Walking in a park that has exercise machines are a bonus for adding extra strength training into your activity schedule
- Find a fitness professional who can come to your home and work around you
- Check out community groups through your local council
- Ring the helpline (above) to see what you might be entitled to and how they may be able to help
- If you are no longer a carer, then there are organisations that can help you re-join the workforce like Fitted for Work and Wear for Success