The financial and social implications of becoming a working carer are huge. Hopefully some of our tips will help you be better prepared.

In our carer story this issue, Vanessa very suddenly became her husband’s carer after he suffered a stroke.

For Vanessa, like most people who suddenly find themselves in a caring role, the feelings of shock, helplessness, fear and worry came up immediately.

money

Like anyone would in this situation, she felt overwhelmed and uncertain about her new role as a carer – and struggled with what it would mean for her and her husband financially, emotionally and physically.

As a new carer, you will have to take on more household chores and other tasks your loved one once handled, and possibly the management of complex medical problems in addition to your previous work and family responsibilities.

You need to reach out for good emotional care and support from your community, carer organisations, family and friends.

If you’ve just become a caregiver, keep this in mind: to be successful, you must take care of your needs as well as those of your loved one.

Here are some tips from Vanessa that helped her cope with becoming a working carer:

  • Define exactly what you need. Don’t hesitate to ask for help with grocery shopping, meals, doctor’s visits, garden work, etc.
  • Write down the things that are most difficult for you to get accomplished and look for the right person for the job. Then ask that person to help you with a specific task.
  • Consider seeking professional support and healthcare services, both for yourself (e.g. counselling) or for your loved one (e.g. in-home care).
  • Find a good local respite care provider as soon as you can – even if you don’t need them straight away. It is important to know who can help in an emergency (e.g. if you have an accident or illness).

Create an emergency kit

In the event of an emergency, be prepared to provide the healthcare professionals with necessary information and documents. Store them in a safe location, and tell your family members and/or friends where they are located.

Your kit should include:

  • List of key contacts (doctors, specialists, family members, etc.)
  • List of medications, including doses and frequencies
  • Copy of your loved one’s Medicare and health insurance cards
  • Will
  • Power of Attorney
  • Enduring Medical Guardianship
  • Advance Care Directive

Take time for yourself

  • Eat a balanced nutritious diet. Learn about how you can maintain good eating habits and help prevent future stroke and heart disease.
  • Get regular physical activity.
  • Find time to do at least one hobby/pleasurable past-time once a week.
  • Spend time with your family and friends.
  • Start a journal. Journaling can help you relieve stress, organise your thoughts and spend time by yourself.