Monday, October 16, 2006

Caring for the caregiver

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Today marks the beginning of Carers Week in Australia. Carers Week seeks to highlight the valuable role that unpaid family carers play in our community.

Who are the carers?

Most carers will be family members providing support to children or adults with a disability, mental illness or chronic health condition. Carers may be parents, partners, brothers, sisters, friends or children of any age.

In Australia, it is estimated that 2.6 million Australians or 1 in 5 households in Australia provide support to a family member or friend. In the UK, more than six million people (1 in 8 people), including 175,000 young carers under the age of 18, give their time in this way. These figures are estimates because caring is an activity that is often hidden.

It is estimated that carers save the Australian economy $19.3 billion annually. Carers are the major providers of community care services, delivering 74% of all services to people needing care and support.

What does caregiving involve?

There's no simple answer. Each care situation is different. It can range from assistance with the most basic tasks of daily living (feeding, bathing, dressing, toileting) to looking after people who are fairly independent but need help managing finances and transport. Carers also provide emotional support to some of the most vulnerable, isolated members of our community.

Read some personal caregiver stories here.

Given the figures, chances are we all know someone who may be a carer.

How can we help?

Be sensitive in your approach

Carers may initially seem unwilling or unable to accept offers of help. Be sensitive to the following thoughts and feelings often experienced by carers when offering assistance:

  1. A sense of duty and obligation to the person they are caring for
  2. A sense that other expect them to perform the caring role
  3. A wish to avoid troubling other people
  4. It's quicker and easier to do it themselves
  5. Accepting help is a sign of weakness or of not coping
  6. Feeling unable to return the help
  7. The person being cared for is resistant to another person being involved in their care.

What do carers say is helpful?

Acknowledgement of the carer role, their knowledge and experiences.

To be heard Being given the opportunity to share worries, feelings and experiences without being made to feel guilty.

Social contact Isolation is a problem commonly faced by most carers.

Respite Breaks from caring by sharing the care through the involvement of relatives, friends and neighbours.

Recognition of the carer as an individual Carers can often feel as it they've lost their own identity. They have their own needs, hopes and concerns. These are important.

The national theme for Carers Week 2006 will be Anyone, Anytime . Anyone, Anytime is about recognising that becoming a carer is often unexpected.

No one ever thinks it will happen to them. Do you?


There are many resources on the internet for carers, some dedicated to caregiving in particular situations, including young carers, caring for individuals with dementia or mental illness. I have given some general caregiver links below. I was unable to find any general resource for the USA. If anyone has this information or other useful links, please email the details to and I will modify the list below.

Carers Australia
Crossroads. Caring for Carers
The Princess Royal Trust for Carers
Young Carers Net


Anonymous said...

Hi ,
I have added your blog link in my Weblog .
would you please add my link too.

it'll help us to find new readers

I waiting to see your comment in my weblog .

Thank you and Best Regards ,
"Doctor David" .

jumpinginpuddles said...

we are a carer of our four year old austistic son his twin brother has aspergers. Its hard work rewarding but often not recognised thankyou for making this blog in recognition of people like us, often ignored so thanks

healthpsych said...

Hey Dr. David,
Welcome! Thanks for leaving a comment. I have tried to access your blog but cannot? Are you on beta blogger? I would be glad to link you - perhaps you can email the link to me?

Hey JIP,
Big week for carers this week! So many issues..this was only really to highlight the work done by carers. There's so much more that could be said. Are you going to blog on your carer experiences?
Thank you for the kind comment

Dr. A said...

Caregivers are people that are definitely underappreciated in society. I can't even imagine what they go through on a day-to-day basis.

As you know, I have an interest in Alz dz, and these caregivers continue to inspire me. Again and again I hear them as they try to honor the decision of their loved one and not place them in a nursing home.

Caregivers for Alz patients are usually advanced in age as well, and it is when the caregiver's health starts to become compromised - this is when the Alz patient is placed in a nursing home.

Good post. You've probably figured this out already, but I don't think Dr. David is a legit blog, if you know what I mean.

cathy said...

Healthpsych I finally did find Dr. David..You can get to him from my sidebar. I don't know why none of his links are working but the one I have now works...

I agree though, something does seem strange..

healthpsych said...

Hey Dr. A.,
Thanks for the comment. So many different aspects to the caregiving function and with National Caregiver Week, it's an opportunity for these issues to be highlighted. Not that I can say there's much going on in the media.

Hey Cathy,
Good to see you. Still can't comment on your blog. I think I'm going to have to bite the bullet and upgrade. Not sure myself now I've been back to look ... I'll remove the link for now.

fjl said...

Would you provide a link to my blog on yours vis a vis my recent post please? xx

Palasandra said...

An interesting article from someone who needs assistance and carefor some things, it made me think and understand why sometimes my partner seems so overloaded. Thankyou for opening my eyes a little.
I tend to agree with Dr A´s comment.

Happystance said...

In the UK, it is estimated that carers save the economy 57 billions pounds per year. The quality of support for carers is variable throughout the UK. I run a project that combines Laughter Yoga and Positive Psychology to give carers an enjoyable time out and to work on tips for building resilience.

Best - Tony

healthpsych said...

Hey FJL,
Sent you an email to explain. Hope things settle.

Hi Palasandra,
Thanks for dropping by. I'm sure you have a handle on this stuff anyway.

Hi Tony,
Very interested to read more about your work. Visited your blog but couldn't leave a comment for some reason. Will be back to read more shortly!

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