As a carer, you may feel like you’re being pulled in lots of different directions. Being the primary carer for someone is a big job, so it goes without saying that looking after more than one person can increase the demands being put on you.
This is a common scenario for many in-home carers, who may be looking after both of their parents, or their own child as well as their parent. The needs of a small child and an elderly parent are obviously quite different, as are the needs of someone with a disability.
You can’t duplicate yourself, tempting as that may be, but there are ways to lessen the load when it comes to caring for multiple people at the same time.
The costs of looking after numerous people can quickly add up. There are government payments available to carers to help ease the financial burden. To find out what you’re eligible for, you can get in touch with Centrelink, who have a free information line.
Home-based care and home- based respite care is also available to support you and your loved one. If you provide care for a family member, they may be eligible for some government assistance for home based care. This means that not only can somebody else help take on the caring duties but the person you care for will also have access to special equipment to help around the house and transport for outings!
The importance of self-care
When you’re time poor as it is, setting aside moments of relaxation time for yourself can seem implausible. Many people who find themselves in caretaking roles have a hard time prioritising their own self-care; however it’s not selfish to do so, nor is it impossible.
A well-known metaphor for self-care is to ‘put on your own oxygen mask before helping others’. This is a good reminder that you need to take care of yourself in order to be of assistance to others.
Talk it out
It can be as simple as a chat over coffee with a friend, or as structured as a conversation with your GP. You may want to join a Carers Australia support group if there is one in your area. Whatever form it takes, debriefing can help prevent overwhelm and isolation, which can lead to anxiety and depression.
If you don’t feel comfortable discussing your feelings in person, seek out a support group online. Carers Australia has lots of resources available on their website, including an anonymous forum in which you can connect with other carers around the country. There is also a carer support hotline you can call for advice.
Take time out
If you’re feeling burnt out or are simply dreaming of a holiday, it is important to take some time out. Make sure that you utilise short-term respite care, in which another carer will take over your responsibilities while you’re away. You may be feeling hesitant about handing over the reins to someone else, or guilty at leaving, however this service is there to be used and the staff are used to meeting new people all the time and adapting to their routines. We have some tips for adjusting to having an outside carer in the home here.
Work with the temporary carer to ensure a smooth transition and minimise disruption to the people you’ve been caring for. If possible it is a great idea to introduce them to the new carer before you leave, so that any concerns or issues can be sorted before your break.
If you don’t have time to spare, or if your break needs to happen immediately (say in the instance of an unexpected event or bereavement), emergency respite care is also available. To find out the options available to you, start by searching our site for Home Based support in your area.