There are currently over 2.65 million dementia carers across Australia who provide much-needed support to a family member or friend. This includes people who care for loved ones living with a dementia diagnosis. These carers make a huge difference in people’s lives, especially in recent times during a global pandemic, health crisis and city-wide lockdowns. These uncontrollable factors have placed informal carers under enormous pressure as they continue their duties, often in very challenging situations.
As part of National Carers Week 2021, we’d like to show our appreciation to the unpaid carers who care for people living with dementia. You do an incredible job – helping you in your important role inspires us to continually do our best for your loved ones.
Self-care is so important when you are providing support to someone. If your tank is empty, you can’t care for other people and run the risk of developing burnout. If you are a carer, here are some easy self-care tips you can put into practice.
- Do the things you love – whether you love drawing, bike riding, knitting, eating out or gardening, make sure you take the time to refresh your own soul by doing activites you love. This will help recharge your batteries.
- Don’t forget about respite care services – government-subsidised respite care is available in Australia so you can take a break or go to other appointments. Home Caring provides respite care, ranging from a day a week to a longer period so you can go on a holiday. Get in touch to find out more.
- Take care of your own needs – it’s all about the basic things like having a nutritious diet, sleeping enough, keeping stress to a minimum, doing exercise and drinking in moderation. Taking care of your mind and body is a great way to care for yourself, as well as ensure you’re able to support your loved one.
- Remember that it’s okay to feel sad – it’s normal to cry sometimes. Give yourself permission to ‘feel’ your feelings and process them in your own way. If you need someone to chat to, you can always call the Carers Gateway’s free counselling service.
- Include mindfulness in your daily routine – mindfulness doesn’t have to be bikram yoga or meditating. Simply doing an activity that engages your senses (like a bushwalk in beautiful nature) and trying to stay in the present can help you decrease your stress levels.
- Take the time to socialise with others – it is tempting when you are a carer to withdraw from the outside world. Take the time to stay in touch with others, whether it’s playing a social sport, having coffee with friends or chatting on the phone.
- If someone asks, ‘can I help?’ say YES! – no one is an island. If people offer to help, don’t say no. Get them to do some housework, cook a meal or help out with the shopping. You need support too!
- Stay equipped with knowledge and skills – understanding dementia and how to support a loved one can be empowering. Chat to your home care provider to get advice and support (we’re always happy to help), or join a forum for people who are in a similar position as you.
- Don’t forget to reward yourself – caring is not easy. Along with the priceless reward of knowing you are making a difference, treat yourself to a massage, coffee date out or whatever takes your fancy. You deserve it!
- Keep in touch with us – as an aged and disability care provider, we always love knowing how we can better support our clients’ families and friends. We’re in this together, and we work collaboratively to support your loved one.