Friday, November 09, 2007

Who cares?

Last year, I wrote a short piece on carers during Carer's Week. The theme for the 2006 week was 'Anyone, Anytime', meaning that becoming a carer can be totally unexpected.

Well, this is what has happened to me this week. Last weekend, my mother-in-law had a very bad fall. Until recently, I always had to struggle to keep up with her when we walked to pick my daughter up from school. The past few months, the situation seemed to reverse with her having increasing muscle weakness and trouble walking. Quite worrying but it was under investigation. Then came the fall. With both legs injured and one sutured, she couldn't walk at all so we bought her home with us. Then we found out she had fractured her leg and took her in to get plastered. At that appointment, they re-read the xray report and found she had also fractured her patella. Today we see an orthopedic surgeon.

My once amazingly active mother-in-law is suddenly extremely frail and very dependent. She's a wonderful woman and, while we wish this hadn't happened, we are very happy to be able to be able to repay some of the kindness and support she has given us over the years. This may be a temporary situation (talking months), it could have longer implications. I hope for the former situation because I can see she is struggling with being dependent.

We're all struggling in fact. The routines that we rely on in our house to get things done is out the window, we're halfway through renovating one room so stuff is everywhere, there's suddenly all these medical appointments to meet and additional tasks to do as she's unable to even wash or go to the bathroom unaided. Time was stretched before, now there's just not enough time to get everything done.

I sound rather selfish. For sure, things will settle, we'll adapt and build a new routine. We'll handle things better. What this week has done has made me think a little harder about the real carers, the people who care for others day in, day out, often with little or no respite.

I overlooked Carer's Week this year (October). I'm ashamed of that. Please take time to visit the Carer's Week 2007 website or reread the original post which has some useful tips for lending support to caregivers. It's important to remember that the caring role is not only limited to looking after individuals with physical illnesses but can also extend to individuals with mental illness. On this note, I draw your attention to beyondblue, who have launched an initiative for the carers of people with depression.

There are many people in our community performing this invaluable role. What can we each do to help?


Dreaming again said...

It is hard to keep on track of such things, when you're in the middle of being a caretaker yourself.

It's not the easiest of roles to find yourself in.

Don't forget to take care of yourself in the meantime!

Psychgrad said...

Sorry to hear about your mother-in-law. I hope that she has a speedy recovery. I wouldn't be too hard on yourself. I don't think you would hear/read most people saying they are happy to take care of someone to that extent.

I guess there are times in life when you can write about being a carer and other times where you have to act as a carer.

kmt said...

I hope your mother-in-law recovers well. Both being a carer and having to be cared for can be extremely stressful and tiring. Having a support system of friends and family means everything.

Take care.

HP said...

Thanks everyone for the kind comments. My job as a carer is a temporary one but for many others it's an everyday role.