Do you know many people are carers but they don’t even know it? A lot of people knowingly or unknowingly have responsibilities of caring for someone who cannot do without the help. You can be a full or part-time carer and the responsibly can take a toll on you mentally and physically. Thus, it crucial to know all carers need support and care too. Also, having knowledge is key to live your life as a carer better. So, here is a transcript was edited for clarity. This conversation took place on March 20th 2021.
Moderator: Welcome everyone to another Round About Chat session! Today, we have with us Chad Smith, a carer and manager at a reckoned Carer Trust. He is going to take your questions and help you guys learn things carers need to know.
Chad: Hello everyone. Let’s start!
Marie: Hey Chad, how can people not know they are carers?
Chad: Often people think a carer is a paid professional like a nurse. But, carers are people whether specialists or non-specialists who have the responsibility of taking care of someone that can be a family member or friend. You can be a spouse, parent, child, sibling, partner, housemate, or anyone else providing support and help to someone without which they cannot lead a comfortable life.
Dottie000: How do you become a carer and not know?
Chad: Most times people become carers when a near or dear one becomes ill or disabled or they have grown up taking care of a household member. In such cases, people don’t realise they are carers. Anyone can become a carer at any age and everyone’s experience is unique. Being a carer can include responsibilities like cooking, cleaning, laundering, supporting financially, washing up the dependent etc. If you are doing these responsibilities, you are a carer whether you are doing it out of love or out of obligation. You’d be surprised to know that one in six people in Australia are really carers.
JassyD17: Are carers a priority for the government?
Chad: Since majority of carers in Australia are unpaid for the work they do, the Federal Government prioritises 2.65 million for unpaid carers. The government is supportive but it is essential to understand that we need to help carers around us. Therefore, besides looking at the Australian Government to make provisions and provide funds, do your bit by donating and helping charities, organisations, groups, neighbours etc.
Janet11: Please elaborate about caregiver stress and burnout
Chad: I’m glad this was asked because carers need support because their responsibilities can weigh heavy on them. They can feel depressed, anxious, stressed and burdened. If you are a carer or around one, here are the signs you should look out for carer stress.
- Irritability, tiredness, and run down
- Difficulty sleeping or staying awaking
- Overreacting to minor bothers
- Poor health
- Trouble focusing
- Being resentful
- Overeating, indulging in smoking or drinking
- Neglecting responsibilities
- Being a martyr and cutting back on leisure activities
Symptoms of carer burnout include:
- Lack of the same energy as you had earlier
- You become ill will colds and flus frequently
- You are always tired even after sleeping or taking a break
- You constantly overlook your needs
- Your sole purpose in life is about caregiving and you are never satisfied
- You cannot relax even when people around you want to help
- You are constantly feeling impatient and irritable with your dependent
- You are helpless & hopeless
Gwen: How to cope?
Chad: As a carer coping is essential to lead a healthy life. Here is how to cope.
- Accept: Often it is difficult for carers to come to terms with their role and the unfairness of having the burden. The sooner you accept that you are in this situation the better. You need to stop feeling sorry for yourself and look for people to blame.
- Be proud: Rather than feeling sorry for yourself, be proud that you are giving care to someone who would otherwise not survive or lead a comfortable life. I know it can be hard and stressful, but the harder you are on yourself the more difficult it will be for you.
- Maintain a Positive Outlook: Don’t think your world has ended because it hasn’t. You need to remain positive and look for the silver lining that your responsibilities make you stronger and a better human being.
- Focus on things under your control: Make sure you only try to control things that you can. You can create a schedule and streamline your tasks rather than expecting someone else to help.
Moderator: Well that’s it for today mates! I hope Chad answered your questions satisfactorily. If you are interested in knowing more about the topic, stay tuned. We have many more conversations lined up for our participants with experts. Register your email if you haven’t already to get the latest updates for participating in our upcoming chats. Till then adios!